Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been steadily dropping over the past few days in the Republic of Cyprus, with health experts praising the government for relying on science in the battle against the pandemic.
The number of positive tests for Covid-19 infections was 29 on Tuesday, which brought the total known infections to 494. But while Tuesday’s number was an actual numerical increase compared to the previous day, the trend was still heading downwards, according to health expert Leondios Kostrikis.
Kostrikis, a professor of biotechnology and virology at the University of Cyprus, said Tuesday’s results were encouraging, clarifying that the numerical increase emerged after twice as many got tested compared to previous days.
“When we talk about 29, keep in mind there have been 1353 lab tests,” Kostrikis said, adding that in the last five or six days those tests had ranged between 700 and 800.
“In order to compare these numbers, you have to divide [Tuesday’s] number by two, and if we had the same number of people tested, the number of confirmed cases would actually be around 15,” he added.
On April 1, the there were 58 confirmed infections out of 779 lab tests, which was the highest number of people testing positive in a single day. On Thursday, a total of 603 tests were conducted with 36 confirmed cases, while 40 cases tested positive on Friday out of 668 tests, 30 out of 698 on Saturday, and 20 tested positive on Sunday out of 810.
Cyprus has been among those countries in Europe that responded with targeted measures that appear to have been effective
“Cyprus may be one of the first countries in Europe when it comes to lab diagnostic tests per population,” Kostrikis said, adding that random sampling will also take place.
Kostrikis estimated that April 1 may have been the peak but could not say so scientifically, while fears remained over a second wave of the disease as well as new concerns over new infections during the week of Orthodox Easter.
There was cautious optimism in recent days as health experts noted the government of the Republic of Cyprus has been among those countries in Europe that responded with targeted measures that appear to have been effective.
But measures were taken in stages, critics say, adding that earlier measures could have been effective more quickly.
In mid March, President Anastasiades addressed the nation announcing bracketed travel restrictions. But some critics said the measures did not go far enough, while two hours before Anastasiades spoke to the nation, the World Health Organization had announced Europe was at the center of the pandemic and called on countries to "do it all" and not just a few measures.
Critics also brought into question initial measures at airports and hospitals. Health experts have warned that in coming days the consequences of initial lack of compliance to restriction measures will start to become evident, while an increasing number of coronavirus patients may need breathing support.
Downward trend for last six days
“We have had a downward trend for the last six days and we believe this was not by chance,” Kostrikis said.
The professor attributed the downward trend to the health ministry’s aggressive tracing methods as well as government restrictions on movement, saying the escalation of measures later appeared to be effective.
“This of course was made possible with the cooperation from the public,” Kostrikis pointed out.
Still not out of the woods yet
Concerns still remained over the infection rate, as the period starting from the latest strict measures on March 31 would not become scientifically meaningful until the end of this week at the earliest.
“If we keep the same results for the next 4 or 5 days, then it will appear that the April 1 peak period is behind us in my opinion,” the expert said.
Kostrikis clarified that all the numbers were based on the dates of daily coronavirus briefings, suggesting that the peak could have occurred sooner if the date of samples were to be taken into consideration.