COVID19: Masks may be necessary for some

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Some Cypriots may need to wear face masks again, especially hospitality staff after Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela asked government advisors to send suggestions to blunt a new wave of COVID infections.

The latest epidemiological report on Friday showed new COVID-19 cases more than doubled to 7,263 from 3,479, with hospitalisations also dangerously rising.

According to the website Philenews, Hadjipantela asked scientists to assess the current situation to decide whether a suspension of the mask mandate should be revoked.

Scientists and health authorities are contemplating reinstating the mask mandate for pharmacies and people working at hospitality venues.

Data shows that most new COVID-19 cases are linked to hospitality or entertainment venues such as restaurants and nightclubs.

The Health Minister’s move was expected, with the test positivity rate touching 10%.

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

A surge in COVID cases is due to the new sub-variant Omicron BA5 in the community, said Dr Petros Karayiannis, member of the government’s coronavirus advisory committee.

He urged people to take self-protection measures adding that in the last 3-4 weeks, cases due to this new sub-variant have increased by 19%.

Karayiannis said that many European countries are faced with increased cases, but the situation in Cyprus is under control.

He advised the public to wear a face mask in crowded indoor places.

Cypriots ditched the face mask on 1 June as authorities lifted the last remaining coronavirus restrictions, including masks for indoor areas and airports.

A mask mandate for public transport is still in place.

Face masks indoors were imposed against the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in August 2020.

Total SARS-CoV-2 infections since March 2020 rose to 504,717, while 1,072 deaths have been recorded.