Rapid antigen testing for COVID-19, in primary schools.

COVID19: Three deaths as infection rate shoots to 4.92%

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Cyprus reported three coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, as new cases tapered off to 4,673 after spiralling to a near-record 5,286 the previous day, prompting the authorities to hold back on lifting pandemic measures.

However, with a proportional drop in the number of tests, the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ broke a new record of 4.92%, five time the acceptable level.

Earlier in the day, the government gave the green light for a fourth vaccine to the elderly over 70 and vulnerable groups, as well as a booster jab for teenagers, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

The health ministry said in its Covid bulletin that hospitalisations inched up to 151, with the number of critical patients dropping slightly to 26.

The latest victims were two women aged 53 and 70, and a 92 year old man, raising the March death toll to 48, with the total number of Covid-19 victims since the pandemic started at 918.

January was the deadliest month on record with 101, followed by 91 in February, overtaking the previous record of 81 last August.

The number of patients being treated in state hospitals rose for the fourth day in a row, up by two to 151, with five fewer critical cases, dropping to 26.

53% of patients unvaccinated

Intubated patients remained unchanged at seven, while 53% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients were unvaccinated.

Some 22 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 rose to 387,315.

A total of 94,943 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, about 20,000 less than the previous day, with 35,600 tests in schools.

Of the 10,574 tests in high schools, 105 were positive, as well as 192 from 19,047 tests in primary schools, while 96 new infections were discovered from the “test to stay” programme for students and teachers.

With a decrease in the number of tests, as well as new cases from 5,286 4,673, the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ rose again to 4.92%, up from Sunday’s all-time high of 4.9% and Monday’s 4.63%, nearly five times above the safe marker of 1%.

Of the new infections, 133 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections.

There were 18 new infections in care homes from 1,171 tests, while all 291 tests in restricted institutions returned negative.