Rapid antigen testing for COVID-19, in primary schools.

COVID19: Six deaths, drop in new cases

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Cyprus reported six COVID-19 deaths this week and a drop in new infections, as health authorities warn of a possible increase during the Christmas and New Year holiday breaks.

The health ministry said in its bulletin on Friday that the latest victims were three men and three women, aged 72 to 90, raising the death toll since the pandemic started in March 2020 to 1,250.

This was up from two last week and down from nine the week before, while the total included two more deaths in October and December last year, retrospectively attributed to coronavirus.

New cases continued to drop for the fourth consecutive week, down slightly to 3,460 from 3,854 the week before.

Some 17 COVID patients were in hospital, 17 fewer from last week, while nine were in a critical state, down by two.

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

Last week, the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) warned that the country’s hospitals are under strain from the increasing number of people needing hospitalisation after catching COVID or other seasonal viruses and urged the public to be vaccinated.

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 625,562.

The average daily rate of infections dropped to 494 from 550 last week.

Testing was at the same level as last week, reaching 70,657 PCR and rapid antigen tests, about 100 more than before.

The benchmark ‘positivity rate’ dropped to 4.9% from 5.43%, still 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.