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23 September, 2021
 
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Cabinet mulls over Safe Pass across the board

Local health expert wants Safe Pass everywhere even supermarkets as Delta mutation continues to spread

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Health experts in Cyprus are calling for Safe Pass requirements in indoor public spaces to apply across the board, including supermarkets and bakeries, with the Cabinet expected Friday to decide on new measures aimed at slowing down a recent spike but also boosting vaccinations.

(Click here for an update to the story)

Petros Karayiannis, a vocal member of the government’s advisory team, said on Thursday that based on his own personal observations, people going to the supermarket do not follow guidelines such as wearing face masks properly, using hand sanitizer at the entrance, or keeping a safe distance from fellow shoppers.

Karayiannis did not clarify whether his observations were based in Nicosia, where he works as a university professor during the week, or Famagusta district where he spends his weekends in Protaras.

But he clarified that it was his scientific belief that a Safe Pass -a way for vaccinated or recently infected persons as well as those testing negative to the coronavirus- ought to be required in all enclosed spaces where people gather.

Additional measures might include closing down summer camps, following reports that the bug had been spreading at a high rate from camping staff to children, who then brought the virus back home

The President’s Cabinet is expected to meet Friday late morning to decide on new measures to halt durther spread of the Delta variant, just weeks after relaxation measures that included re-opening bars and clubs with a Safe Pass requirement. This also comes after the re-introduction of Safe Pass in outdoor dining and congregating areas following reports that high school graduates and young adults were spreading the virus in beach bars after the requirement had been lifted for outdoor spaces.

According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the Cabinet is expected to discuss introducing Safe Pass in all social domains of daily life.

Kathimerini’s Apostolos Tomaras cited an official source saying new Safe Pass measures could be implemented after Friday’s Cabinet meeting including convenience stores and the purchase of basic necessities.

Additional measures could include closing down summer camps, following reports that the bug had been spreading at a high rate from camping staff to children, who then brought the virus back home, while access to senior home only through Safe Pass is also up for discussion.

Tomaras also pointed to reports suggesting Cypriot officials might be called to decide whether the island ought to follow Greece’s example after Athens made it illegal for people to remain standing or dance in bars and taverns.

Karayiannis, who was a guest on state radio Friday morning, also defended the government's decision not to provide detailed figures about vaccination status of hospitalized patients. After being asked whether detailed data during daily briefings could be helpful to the public, the expert went on to suggest that it was clear that the majority of Covid cases in hospitals were unvaccinated persons.

No information was shared by the health ministry on criteria used in hospital admissions for infected patients in the Republic of Cyprus, with previous reports saying many people were admitted with mild cases while others were turned away and told to self-isolate at home.

There was also no information on vaccination status of rapid and PCR test takers, with officials reiterating that while a small number of those who get the jab could fall ill, the majority of fully vaccinated persons would be protected from the virus and its mutations.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides has urged member states to focus on getting their populations vaccinated. 

"It is vital to ensure that citizens can be fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. Every hour counts in the race against variants," Kyriakides wrote on Twitter.

Daily detected cases continued an upward trend in the Republic of Cyprus, with the health ministry on Thursday announcing 1152 cases out of 67,205 tests (57,302 rapid and 9903 PCR) with 181 hospitalizations and the national positivity rate standing at 1.71%.

District positivity rates based on the cases detected from rapid tests were as follows:

Nicosia 0.87% from 20,842 tests
Limassol 1.83 % from 12,864 tests
Larnaca 1.56% from 7887 tests
Paphos 0.96% from 6360 tests
Famagusta 1.25% from 5598 tests

Overall, there were 81 infections detected from 675 samples taken through contact tracing, 5 from 3201 random sampling tests at airports, 291 from 5521 tests done on private initiative, 36 from 350 tests carried out at the state hospital labs, 1 from 156 tests through family doctor referrals or public clinic testing, 60 from 1927 tests carried out in private labs or pharmacies, and 678 from 55,375 rapid tests in public test centers where people, who are typically unvaccinated, go to obtain a Safe Pass valid for 72 hours.

Three cases were found in nursing homes in Limassol and five cases in the army.

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