COVID19: Death toll rises among elderly

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Cyprus saw an increase in COVID-19 deaths in the past week, as the Health Ministry reported another nine victims, with the death toll in the past four weeks alone rising to 30.

For three weeks in a row health authorities had reported seven deaths, with experts extending an urgent plea to people over 60 to get a second booster.

In its weekly COVID report, the ministry said the nine victims were aged between 63 and 97, four women and five men.

However, for the first time in a while, a younger victim was reported, a 46 year old man.

New cases dropped slightly to 4,011 from 4,214 from last week and 3,736 the week before.

The ministry has also adjusted the death toll to include two more fatalities earlier in September last year, raising the total number of fatalities since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 1,237.

Some 93 COVID patients were in hospital on Friday, 19 more from last week, while ten were in a critical state, up by three.

Two patients remained intubated in an ICU, while eight were treated in an Acute Care Unit.

The upward trend in cases and deaths has health authorities concerned as they renew their call to people to get vaccinated.

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.

OKYPY’s spokesperson Charalambos Charilaou said earlier in the week that 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.

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% having had a fifth shot.

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 drops

Coronavirus infections since the pandemic rose to 618,248.

The average daily rate of infections dropped to 573 from 602 last week.

Testing was at slightly lower levels, reaching 72,668 PCR and rapid antigen tests, about 1,300 less than before.

The benchmark ‘positivity rate’ dropped to 5.52% from 5.7%, 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.