COVID19: No tougher measures before autumn

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No additional COVID-19 measures are expected over the summer, as scientists advising the government are concentrating on autumn, when they expect a rise in cases, possibly powered by a new variant.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, scientists advised Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela to hold back from additional measures, despite a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Last Friday, the face mask mandate was reintroduced for indoor facilities, including airports and hospitality venues.

Authorities have appeared reluctant to escalate measures during the peak tourist season.

Scientists argue that patients in serious condition are still in single figures, despite hospitalisations rising to above 100.

Ministry sources said the reintroduction of the Safe Pass would not be examined during Wednesday’s meeting, and the only suggestion being looked at is increasing rapid antigen testing units.

It is expected that after the meeting, the Health Ministry will also make strong recommendations for using protective face masks outdoors.

CNA said some experts had made specific proposals, but the Health Ministry does not believe they address the issue as things currently stand.

Return of the Safe Pass will be examined closer to October when authorities have a clearer picture of where the pandemic is heading and whether updated COVID-19 vaccines will be available.

There has been a low take-up for the second booster dose, eligible for those over 60 and the medically vulnerable.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) urged countries to prepare for autumn, encouraging a second booster shot for vulnerable groups.

“An early second booster roll-out should be considered not only for the population aged 80 and above but also for adults between the ages of 60 and 79 and medically vulnerable individuals regardless of age to prevent severe disease and safeguard health system capacity,” ECDC and EMA said.

Cyprus has been experiencing a sixth wave of coronavirus infections since the outbreak in March 2020, with reports claiming that 10,000 cases were recorded in the past four days.

Alpha TV, citing sources from the Health Ministry, said that 3,300 cases were recorded on Monday, 2,430 on Tuesday and 4,000 over the weekend.

More than 70% of the infections concerned people under 60, with clusters found at weddings, events, funerals, concerts, nightclubs, gyms, and summer schools.

The new surge in COVID cases and hospitalisations is attributed to the prevalence of highly infectious Omicron subvariants BA4 and BA5.

Since the pandemic started, coronavirus infections reached over 530,510 and 1,079 deaths.