COVID19: Slow retreat in cases as Cyprus relaxes measures

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Cyprus reported two coronavirus deaths on Thursday, with new daily cases dropping slightly to 2,457, while hospitalisations increased to 208, as the government said it will abolish most restrictions, including a mask mandate for outdoors, and the SafePass for work or shopping.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela added that as of Monday, close contacts who have not been vaccinated will isolate for only five days instead of seven.

Earlier in the day, authorities said they are scrapping the Cyprus Flight Pass, with vaccinated passengers no longer required to take any action to board a flight to the island.

Unvaccinated travellers are required to carry a negative 24-hour rapid test or 72-hour PCR test, in a effort to rescue the tourism industry, hampered by the loss of holidaymakers from Russia and Ukraine.

The health ministry said in its Covid bulletin that the latest victims were two men, aged 52 and 74, raising the April death toll to 17 and 952 to date, more than a quarter of whom in the first three months of this year.

March ended with 65 coronavirus deaths, while January was the deadliest month on record with 101, followed by 91 in February, overtaking the previous record of 81 last August.

The total number of patients admitted in Covid wards in state hospitals increased by six to 208, having breached the 200-safety barrier the past few days, despite briefly dipping below the marker, while critical cases were up three at 30.

Intubated patients decreased to five, while 60% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients were reported as unvaccinated.

A further 15 patients are still considered post-Covid, three more than the previous day, 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 452,172.

30,500 tests in schools

A total 79,334 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted during the past 24 hours, about 7,000 more than the day before, with 30,500 tests in schools.

Of the 9,018 tests in secondary schools, 30 were positive, and 85 from 18,478 tests in primary schools, while 25 new infections were identified from the “test to stay” programme for students and teachers, which also includes kindergartens.

With an increase in the number of tests, and a drop in new cases from 2,716 to 2,457, the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ improved slightly, dropping from 3.73% to 3.10%, down from the record 7.27% nearly two weeks ago, but still three times above the safe marker of 1%.

Of the new infections, 64 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections.

There were 22 new infections in care homes and five in restricted institutions.