COVID19: Hospitals under pressure from seasonal flu

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Cyprus has been reporting, on average, one COVID-19 death daily, while authorities warn that things could worsen as seasonal flu is on the rise.

In its last three weekly epidemiological reports, the Health Ministry reported 21 deaths.

At the same time, the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) has warned that the country’s hospitals are under stress from the increasing number of people needing hospitalisation after catching COVID or other seasonal viruses.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, OKYPY’s spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said the health system is under pressure from what he called a “triple epidemic” as respiratory syncytial viruses and flu cases increase.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing an increase in the elderly who need hospitalisation either after being infected with a seasonal virus or coronavirus, from which at least one person dies a day”, Charilaou said

He said there are nearly 80 COVID patients in state hospitals at the moment, with numbers slowly creeping up weekly.

“We have seen 89 cases reported in nursing homes and other care centres.

“This indicates that the number of elderly people needing hospitalisation in the coming days will be far from negligible”.

Charilaou said the majority of people currently in hospitals are over the age of 70.

The majority have been vaccinated but have not had a booster shot past five months, as recommended, and some are unvaccinated.

He warned that with more indoor gatherings, state hospitals would receive a greater load as it gets colder.

Charilaou said paediatric wards “are under immense pressure. We see increased cases of RSV, which causes respiratory infection and gastroenteritis.”

Government scientist Dr Constantinos Tsioutis said the triple epidemic of RSV and influenza cases along with COVID is due to public complacency following the lifting of restrictions.

“We have seen some viruses that usually spread among children, also transmitted to adults, such as RSV, coxsackie and infectious mononucleosis.

“The spread of viruses, in general, is so great that we see many elderly, immunosuppressed, people with chronic diseases, children and pregnant women daily,” said Dr Tsioutis.

“Protective measures are necessary. Regardless of the diagnosis, we must avoid contact when we have any symptoms of a virus”.