COVID19: Cyprus heading for the sixth wave

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Health experts sounded the alarm over the sixth wave of coronavirus infections threatening to overturn plans for a ‘normal’ summer as COVID-19 cases are exploding.

Cyprus reported two deaths in the weekly Covid bulletin on Friday, with new cases nearly doubling to 7,263 from 3,470 the previous week.

Hospitalisations increased slightly within a week from 34 to 47, and critical cases increased from one to four, with one intubated patient.

The positivity rate was a high 9.77% from 74,362 tests carried out.

In comments to CyBC radio on Friday, virologist Dr Peter Karayiannis, member of the government’s coronavirus advisory committee, said the emergence of two Omicron subvariants, BA4 and BA5, have pushed Cyprus on the verge of a new COVID wave.

“Just as we were expecting the number of cases to go down during the hot summer, the emergence of the BA5 subvariant has overturned the situation.

“At the moment, the subvariant is behind 19% of recently recorded cases,” said Karayiannis.

He said that the BA5 subvariant is much more transmissible than the BA2, commonly known as Omicron2, which has been the dominant variant of the virus in Cyprus.

BA5 causes more severe symptoms as it affects the lower respiratory system of the human body and is more efficient in evading vaccine efficacy and natural immunity acquired from a previous infection.

Dr Karayiannis said that scientists are waiting to see how the new subvariant will affect hospitalisations.

Health Ministry spokesperson Konstantinos Athanasiou said that the authority is on stand-by, keeping a close eye on the situation, ready to step in with measures if scientists give the go-ahead.

Earlier this week, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela confirmed that authorities are contemplating reinstating face masks after being ditched on 1 June.

In comments to CyBC radio, Hadjipantela said that authorities were troubled over the recent surge.

“We’re waiting to see if hospitalisations will also go up, and then we will decide accordingly”.