Cyprus reported another seven Covid-19 deaths in the past week, increasing concerns among health experts urging the elderly to roll up their sleeves for a second booster shot.
The Health Ministry said in its weekly Covid report that the latest seven victims yielding to COVID-19 in just a week were aged between 68 and 92.
New cases have risen recently, jumping to 3,625 from 3,544 last week and 2,821 the week before.
The ministry has also adjusted the death toll to include three fatalities earlier in May and August, raising the total number of fatalities since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 1,210.
Some 69 COVID patients were in hospital on Friday, down one from last week, while nine were in a critical state.
Two patients remained intubated in an ICU, while seven were treated in an Acute Care Unit.
Three others, still considered post-Covid, have shaken off the virus but remained intubated and in a serious state.
The upward trend in cases and deaths has health authorities and experts concerned as they renew their call to people, especially the elderly, to come forward for a second booster shot.
Take-up on the second booster vaccination has been lower than expected, with only 20.8% over 60 getting the fourth jab. And 1.5% have had a fifth shot.
In comments to the Financial Mirror on Friday, the Health Ministry’s communication officer Konstantinos Athanasiou urged people over 60 and those belonging to vulnerable groups to come forward for a fourth jab.
“People over 60 most likely took their first booster shot more than nine months ago,” said Athanasiou.
“Vaccinations have slowed down even further in recent weeks, as most of the elderly are going to their GPs for a flu shot.
“There is a misconception that one will have to wait three to four weeks before getting a COVID jab after a flu shot.
“The medical society has suggested that there is no reason to space out the two vaccines”.
The government is to launch a vaccination programme in mountain communities, which was a success last year.
“The government is worried that a new wave during the colder months will see hospital admissions spike among the elderly, especially in January and February, which are usually the coldest in Cyprus”.
He added that a newsletter would be sent to GPs urging them to encourage their patients to come forward for a second jab to prevent further hospitalisations.
Coronavirus infections since the pandemic rose to 606,287.
The average daily rate of infections increased to 517, up from 506 last week.
Testing was at similar levels, reaching 72,556 PCR and rapid antigen tests, about 9,400 more than before.
Due to the increase in tests, the benchmark ‘positivity rate’ dropped to 5% from 5.62%, still more than five times higher than the safe infection rate of 1%.
Masks remain mandatory in hospitals, testing labs and pharmacies.
Free government testing sites are only available at state hospitals for visitors.