COVID19: Government mulls extra measures

1745 views
1 min read

Authorities will not hesitate to reinstate more COVID-19 measures following the reintroduction of face masks if cases continue to rise, Health minister Michalis Hadjipantela warned.

“We are waiting to hear scientists’ feedback, and if we need to step in with more measures, we will not hesitate to do so. Just like we did not hesitate to bring back the mask,” said the minister.

Hadjipantela will discuss possible measures during Wednesday’s meeting with the team of government advisors on the coronavirus pandemic.

He confirmed that one of the discussed measures is increasing free government testing spots.

Scientists have suggested that authorities bring back the daily testing scheme to have a clearer picture of the spread of the virus.

However, the minister said the main focus is on re-introducing free rapid tests.

Authorities also contemplate reinstating the Safe Pass that indicates proof of recovery, negative test, or vaccination status for indoor facilities in autumn.

Hadjipantela said that should the Safe Pass return; testing schemes would once more be broadened.

A ministry source told the Financial Mirror that scientists have already started to discuss whether reinstating the Safe Pass for indoor facilities would help to stem the virus.

“However, this will not be reinstated during the summer, as scientists must weigh the efficacy of the current vaccines in circulation against the dominant Omicron subvariants and the efficacy of updated coronavirus vaccines expected in autumn,” said the source.

Private hospitals will also be asked to take more non-COVID patients from state hospitals, as more beds are needed for COVID wards.

Hadjipantela said that the ministry would be keeping a close eye on the situation as it is “deeply concerned”.

Cyprus became the first EU country to reinstate a face mask mandate on 8 July, barely a month after authorities lifted it on 1 June.

Omicron

The mask returned after a new surge in COVID cases and hospitalisations, attributed to the prevalence of highly infectious Omicron subvariants BA4 and BA5.

On Monday, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) told member states to convince their elderly and vulnerable population to get a second booster, as it noted low numbers.

There has been a recent rise in COVID cases with a travel history among tourist arrivals and Cypriots who went abroad.

Ministry data shows that in the first week of July, 14,914 positive cases were recorded from 111,137 tests (positivity rate: 13.42%).

There are 107 Covid patients being treated at state hospitals, four of whom are in Acute Care Units (ACU) and two in ICU.

Since the pandemic started in March 2020, Coronavirus infections reached 530,510 and 1,079 deaths.

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