Rapid antigen testing in primary schools in Nicosia, Cyprus (Photo PIO)

COVID19: Four deaths, fewer patients, cases at 1,400

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Cyprus reported four coronavirus deaths on Thursday, with new infections inching up to 1,421 cases, while hospitalisations dropped for the third day in a row to 157, but critical patients increased as restrictions are removed at airports.

Most of the COVID-19 travel restrictions will be lifted from April 18, scrapping the passenger locator form and colour-coded country risk assessment.

After two years of travel rules, the tourism junior ministry said that as of Monday arrivals will no longer be required to complete a “flight pass” before boarding an aircraft, and countries will not be categorised by their COVID-risk level.

The Health Ministry said in its Covid bulletin that the latest victims were three men, aged 58 to 89, and a 90 year old woman, raising the April death toll to 34 and 988 to date.

More than a quarter of all deaths occurred 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 92 in February, overtaking the previous record of 83 last August.

The total number of patients admitted in Covid wards in state hospitals decreased further from 183 to 157. Of these, 31 were critical, two more from the previous day.

Intubated patients remained at seven, while 49% of hospitalised COVID-19 patients were reported as unvaccinated.

A further 10 patients are still considered post-Covid, one less than the day before, having recovered from the virus, but remain intubated and in a serious state.

Total SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 rose to 464,204.

31,300 tests in schools

A total of 67,206 PCR and antigen rapid tests were conducted during the last 24 hours, about 13,000 more than the day before, with 31,300 tests in high schools.

Of the 9,630 tests in secondary schools, 34 were positive, with 45 new cases from 18,287 tests in primary schools. A further 11 new infections were identified from the “test to stay” programme for students and teachers, which also includes kindergartens, and no new cases in special schools.

With an increase in tests, and a marginal rise in new cases from 1,414 to 1,421, the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ improved slightly and dropped from 2.60% to 2.11%, down from the record 7.27% nearly three weeks ago and double the safe limit of 1%.

Of the new infections, 13 were identified through contact tracing linked to earlier infections.

A further 12 tested positive in care homes, while three tested positive in restricted institutions.