Wave of infections stretching hospitals

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Hospitals are overwhelmed as the health system comes under pressure from a wave of respiratory infections, such as Influenza A.

Authorities are also concerned over COVID transmission within hospitals; visits at Paphos General were cancelled after at least two clusters were found.

The clusters were formed after visitors passed on the virus to family members they had visited in the previous days.

People visiting loved ones at hospitals must take a 24-hour-valid rapid test before arriving, wear a face mask, and keep visitations short.

Besides daily admissions of people with COVID-19, hospitals must deal with many patients in emergency departments with other viral infections.

During the week between Christmas and New Year’s (December 26 to January 1), 108 people were admitted to the hospital with respiratory infections.

Some 58 were infected with Influenza A, one with Influenza B, nine with Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection (RSV), and 39 with other infections.

According to the Health Ministry, 63% of all people needing hospitalisation during the festive week were under 14, while 6% were between 15 to 39 years old, 11% were 40 to 64, and 20% involved people over 60.

In comments to Phileleftheros daily, the head of the medical services, Elisavet Constantinou, said the data only involves patients at state hospitals.

“We should also take as given that numbers following New Year have increased, mainly due to home gatherings.

“With children returning to school, we should also expect to see numbers of people needing hospitalisation to grow,” said Constantinou.

She said hospitalisations indicate the spread of infections such as Influenza A in the community.

Flu vaccines are available free of charge for everyone, and GPs and paediatricians carry out vaccinations.

“There are enough stocks of vaccines, and citizens would do well to proceed with their vaccination as these viruses are expected to circulate among the community until March,” said Constantinou.

The Ministry of Health has imported some 170,000 flu vaccines.

“By December 15, 103,180 vaccines were administered, 60% of the vaccines imported; therefore, there are enough vaccines available to vaccinate several thousands more.”

Spokesperson for the State Health Services Organisation (OKYPY) Charalambos Charilaou said the increased numbers landing in hospitals with seasonal infections has added to the strain COVID has had on the health system.

Charilaou said that patients with COVID in state hospitals reached 96, and 16 were in a more serious condition. Six were intubated in an ICU.

“We have noticed an increase in cases and hospitalisations with coronavirus.

“Influenza is now adding to the pressure on the health system.

“We need to observe personal protection measures and be especially careful around people who belong to vulnerable groups.”