The Cypriot government’s health advisory team has been summoned back to the Presidential Palace following a huge spike of daily COVID cases over the weekend, with critics pointing fingers to the alienated squad as frustration continues to grow over the management of the pandemic.
Authorities in the Republic of Cyprus reported daily COVID-19 cases rose to 226 on Saturday and 216 on Sunday, a huge jump from double digits just prior to a long holiday weekend earlier this month.
The head of the scientific committee, Constantinos Tsioutis, said a combination of factors was behind the outbreak. According to the Cyprus News Agency, the professor listed among other reasons a false sense of security following the lifting of restrictions, public fatigue, breaching of protocols, the surge of virus variants, and low vaccinations numbers amongst members of highly active groups.
But some health experts say the increase was not sudden but gradual, with critics pointing to warnings from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the lack of usable data in a timely fashion.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, one factor believed to be associated with slow response by health administrators towards the Delta variant, known in the media as the Indian mutation, had to do with the “fragmented and delayed sequencing of the variant” from ECDC.
'A case in point was the fact that the Indian mutation cases that were announced on June 24 had to do with samples sent to ECDC on May 25,' Tomaras said
Kathimerini’s Apostolos Tomaras wrote on Sunday that in the latest ECDC warning against the spread of the coronavirus, Cyprus was listed among countries that did not provide a lot of data or carry out adequate and timely checks.
“A case in point was the fact that the Indian mutation cases that were announced on June 24 had to do with samples sent to ECDC on May 25,” Tomaras said.
Kathimerini also reported that the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics is scheduled soon to get involved in the lab analysis of COVID samples, involving a set of laboratory methods that scientists use to scan a viral genome to determine the genome sequence of a virus.
Tomaras also said a member of the scientific committee told Kathimerini that an increase in known COVID daily cases would be added pressure as possible measures and restrictions would be discussed.
But local media have also pointed out to a dysfunctional scientific committee that advises the government on the pandemic, with Monday evening’s scheduled meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades being the first time members would meet together after two weeks.
Reports said there were differences of opinion amongst members of the committee, while there was also frustration as the squad has been concerned over lawsuits pertaining to measures and restrictions, including a controversial Safe Pass that many deem unconstitutional and ineffective.
Outgoing Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou, who will attend Monday’s meeting at the Presidential Palace, will be joined by his successor, incoming health minister Michael Hadjipantela.