COVID19: Health experts to assess new measures

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An increase in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations have prompted Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela to call an extraordinary meeting with government advisors on the pandemic.

Hadjipantela said in light of the COVID cases pushing up; he will meet scientists on Wednesday to assess the course of the pandemic and possible measures to prevent the further spread of the virus.

He told MPs that the government would be proactive, but “the goal is not to reinstate any restrictive measures”.

He reminded the pandemic is not over yet and that “we should all remain vigilant”.

“The Ministry of Health and public hospitals have proven they can cope with the pandemic and are ready to act immediately in case there is further increase in hospitalisations by involving the private sector, so there is no need for measures to be reinstated”.

At the beginning of 2022, the ministry dealt with the Omicron variant with increased beds at state hospital Intensive Care Units.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry announced that a sequencing system is now in place, tracking all COVID-19 variants currently infecting the island’s population.

The majority of cases involve Omicron subvariant BA5.

From September 1 to October 15, 194 samples identified as Omicron (B.1.1.529) were successfully sequenced.

Of these samples, four (2.1%) were identified as BA.2, one sample (0.5%) as BA.4 and 189 (97.4%) as BA.5.

A new offshoot of the dominant BA.5 subvariant of Omicron known as BQ.1 has also been found in Cyprus, as three cases were identified.

“From ECDC modelling estimates, it is expected that the rate of BQ.1 is likely to increase over the next period across Europe,” said the ministry.

It said that based on the data available, there is no evidence that BQ.1 is associated with greater severity of infection than the circulating BA.4/BA.5 variants.

“It is emphasised that all approved vaccines available today in Cyprus protect against serious illness and death against all known variants”.

Last week, Cyprus health authorities reported two Covid-19 deaths and a worrying increase in new cases and hospitalisations to 3,544 and 70, respectively.

The average daily rate of infections rose to 506, up from 403 the week before.