The positivity rate in the Republic of Cyprus registered a drop to just below 1% at the end of the holiday weekend, but officials say it is too early to know whether lockdown measures have been effective during Holy Week.
According to health ministry figures, two people infected with COVID-19 died over the weekend at Nicosia General Hospital, a partially vaccinated 80-year-old man and a 56-year-old man, both of whom were being treated in the ICU.
Four more deaths were recorded on Friday, also at Nicosia General, including a vaccinated male aged 68, and three unvaccinated patients described as two men aged 37 and 63 and a 75-year-old woman.
But as the Holy Week came to an end on Easter Sunday, it remained unclear whether current lockdown measures have been as effective as expected, with local media still reporting hospitalizations remained high.
As of Sunday evening, 292 patients with COVID-19 were being hospitalized, 72 of whom were said to be in serious condition. The median age was 58.6 according to the Cyprus News Agency.
The concern was that the health ministry’s revision of relaxation rules to accommodate church services 'could end up being made at the expense of the effort to reduce the positivity rate'
On Easter Sunday, the health ministry announced 58 cases were detected out of 6158 tests using either the PCR method or the antigen rapid test.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, Sunday’s positivity rate dropped to 0.94% but the report cautioned over the lack of large data due to the holiday. Local media also reported there were no rapid tests scheduled for Sunday due to the holiday.
Kathimerini also reported there were 37,325 tests on April 29 with 668 testing positive at a rate of 1.79%. On April 30 there were 47,621 tests with 676 testing positive at 1.42%. On May 1, when supermarkets and shops closed for International Workers Day, there were 31,677 tests with 463 positive at 1.46%.
But it remains unclear whether pandemic measures during the Holy Week were effective in brining the positivity rate down.
Last week, during the Holy Week of the Greek Orthodox Easter, relaxation measures went into effect, allowing people to move in a less restricted manner, including churchgoers attending midnight mass on Holy Saturday.
Kathimerini had been told by a member of the government’s pandemic advisory committee there was concern over the Church of Cyprus’ decision to go against previously announced Holy Week measures.
According to Kathimerini’s Yiannos Lytras, the concern was based on the notion that the health ministry’s revision of rules to accommodate church services “could end up being made at the expense of the effort to reduce the positivity rate.”
The current third lockdown in the Republic of Cyprus, which was imposed on April 26 with revisions and exceptions for the Holy Week, is scheduled to end on May 9, when either new measures will be introduced or pre-lockdown measures will be reinstated.
But health officials warn it would take another 7 to 10 days after a drop in the positivity rate before the number of hospitalizations can be expected to start going down.
Local experts said this week is absolutely critical in finding out the national positivity rate after Holy Week and whether it is trending up or down.