Cyprus reported two coronavirus deaths on Monday, the first day of relaxations for the unvaccinated, with new cases rising to 2,698, while hospitalisations and critical patients also on the up, at 164 and 40, respectively.
New Covid-19 infections returned to the 2,000-3,000 range recorded throughout most of the last two months, after dipping to the 1,700s the past two days.
Health officials were concerned about the number of new daily cases and hospitalisations remaining high, but pressure on the administration from the leisure industry and the tourism sector seem to have paid off.
After months of being locked out of hospitality, social events, and sports venues, unvaccinated Cypriots were allowed back on Monday, provided they carry a 24-hour negative coronavirus test.
A series of government relaxations end a mini-lockdown on unvaccinated people, who have been excluded from social events since 15 December.
The Health Ministry said in its Covid bulletin that the latest victims were an 80 year old man and a 90 year old woman, raising the February death toll to 67 and 825 since March 2020.
January was the deadliest month with 100 deaths, overtaking the previous record of 80 last August.
Intubated patients were up by one at 13, while 69% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated.
Some 27 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 308,917.
34,000 tests in schools
A total of 132,177 PCR and rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, 48,000 more than the previous day, as testing resumes in schools with 34,000 samples.
Of the 18,536 tests in primary schools, 71 were positive, while 64 tested positive among 10,427 samples in high schools, and 68 new cases among 5,498 samples acquired as part of the ‘test to stay’ programme.
The increase in tests and new cases from 1,794 to 2,698 saw the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ drop marginally from 2.08% to 2.04%, and still double the safe marker of 1%.
Having peaked at 5,457 on January 4, driven by a spike in the Omicron variant, new cases dipped below 3,000 for most of the past week, and below 2,000 for the last two days.
Of the new infections, 126 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections.
A further 52 tested positive from 1,376 tests in care homes, as well as eight new cases from 297 samples in the National Guard, while 21 tests in restricted institutions were negative.