COVID19: Another seven deaths, cases higher

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The death toll of COVID-19 in Cyprus is dangerously on the rise, as the Health Ministry reported another seven victims in the past week.

This is the second week that the island’s health authorities have reported seven deaths and 3,736 new cases.

In its weekly COVID report, the ministry said the seven victims were aged between 71 and 96, five women and two men.

New cases increased slightly to 3,736 from 3,625 last week and 3,544 the week before.

The ministry has also adjusted the death toll to include one more fatality earlier in August last year, raising the total number of fatalities since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 1,218.

Some 70 COVID patients were in hospital on Friday, the same number as last week, while 10 were in a critical state.

One patient remained intubated in an ICU, while nine were treated in an Acute Care Unit.

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 21.5% over 60 getting the fourth jab. And 2.4% have had a fifth shot.

In comments to the Financial Mirror on Friday, the Health Ministry’s communication officer Konstantinos Athanasiou said experts advising the authorities on COVID-19 are concerned and are monitoring the spread of the virus.

“At the moment, there are no proposals for tightening measures on the table.

“Our efforts are channelled towards convincing people to get vaccinated and boosted. That’s all we can do at the moment,” said Athanasiou.

He renewed the authority’s call to 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”.

The government has already launched a vaccination programme in mountain communities, which was a success last year while getting GPs on board to convince people to get the fourth jab.

Bivalent mRNA vaccines, covering the Omicron variant and its BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, are available as a second booster at vaccination stations.

Daily average

Coronavirus infections since the pandemic rose to 610,023.

The average daily rate of infections increased to 533, up from 517 last week.

Testing was at similar levels, reaching 70,769 PCR and rapid antigen tests, about 2,000 less than before.

The benchmark ‘positivity rate’ increased to 5.28% from 5%, 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.