January became the deadliest month to date, with eight new coronavirus deaths pushing the monthly total to 86, overtaking the previous record of 80 last August.
The health ministry said in its Covid bulletin that new daily cases dropped marginally to 2,499 and hospitalisations inched up to 224.
Six women aged 64 to 91, and two men, 72 and 86, were the latest victims of the pandemic with the death toll rising to 724 since March 2020.
Of these, 450 were men (62.6%) and 274 women, with an average age of 76.2 years.
Hospitalisations rose marginally from 223 to 224, as serious cases rose to 75, four more than the day before.
Intubated patients increased by seven to 34, while 75% of hospital patients were unvaccinated.
Some 19 patients are still considered post-Covid, having recovered from the virus, but remain intubated and in a serious state.
The total number of SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 has risen to 243,818.
More for ‘test to stay’
A total of 92,276 PCR and rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, some 7,000 fewer than the day before, with ‘test to stay’ system introduced in schools as of Monday gaining support from parents.
Of the 9,269 tests in high schools, 51 were positive, and a further 19 new cases were discovered from 1,297 ‘test to stay’ samples in schools, four times more than Tuesday.
The drop in the number of tests and new cases from 2,546 to 2,499 saw the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ rise to 2.71% from 2.56% the previous day, having skyrocketed to 5.98% on New Year’s day, six times above the high-risk barrier of 1%.
Having peaked at 5,457 on January 4, driven by a spike in the Omicron variant, new cases remained below 3,000 throughout the past week, but do not seem to be dropping any further.
Of the new infections, 192 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections, 21 were passengers who arrived at Larnaca and Paphos airports, and 419 were diagnosed from private initiative, hospital and GP tests.
A further 1,158 cases were detected from private rapid tests at labs and pharmacies, and 837 were positive from the free national testing programme, available only to those vaccinated or recovered from earlier infections.
From 1,124 tests in retirement homes 61 were positive, and two from 196 tests in restricted institutions.