COVID19: Fewer tests, higher positivity rates

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With fewer COVID-19 tests carried out, authorities should expect the positivity rate to reach new heights, said lead scientist advising the government on coronavirus, epidemiologist Dr Constantinos Tsioutis.

In comments to Politis Radio, Tsioutis said that fewer people are coming forward to get tested with measures being relaxed.

Last Friday, a record 7.27% positivity rate was reported when 3,329 cases were detected out of 45,788 PCR and antigen rapid tests.

“The trend we are seeing now is that people seeking to get tested are usually those who have some indication that they have contracted the virus or have been at a high-risk venue,” said Tsioutis.

Asked about the pace of relaxed restrictions, Tsioutis said he preferred if Cyprus took things slower, noting that Easter is just around the corner.

“We should be looking at the data very carefully. What we are currently doing is simply tweaking measures”.

Asked whether scientists are more relaxed over the Omicron variant, as evidence indicates it causes milder disease than other variants, Tsioutis argued that Omicron’s severity is no less than that of the Alpha variant.

Tsioutis explained that “we now have vaccines, medical treatments, and high immunity levels within the community”.

The epidemiologist said a percentage of the population living with underlying health conditions or a weakened immune system could be in danger, even with the Omicron variant.

Long COVID

The Cyprus Federation of Patients’ Associations recently established the “Long Covid Cyprus” group, which aims to support patients who develop chronic problems after contracting COVID-19.

Based on data from abroad, 20-30% of people who have developed symptoms suffer from Long COVID.

Even people who suffer mild symptoms may suffer from coughing, memory and concentration disorders and fatigue for up to a year.

The epidemiologist said that among Long COVD symptoms are chronic heart and lung problems.

“Long COVID is a syndrome and has not yet been recognized as a disease.

“It must now be recognized as a medical condition to be properly treated.”

He said treatment in Cyprus is lagging compared to other countries.

Cyprus has reported 410,020 COVID-19 cases and 927 deaths.

The island’s authorities have essentially relaxed all restrictions introduced to stem the spread of the virus, leaving in place the demand for people to present Safe Pass documents for medium and high-risk venues such as weddings and nightclubs.