Another pandemic death was recorded Tuesday in the Republic of Cyprus, as critical voices against the government’s response continue to multiply calling for fewer tests and more vaccinations.
According to state authorities, a 52-year-old male died Tuesday after contracting the coronavirus, with local media saying the patient had no known underlying medical issues.
The death came as government officials pinned their hopes on stabilizing the numbers of hospitalizations while also being alarmed over a recent increase in the daily count of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Health officials admitted that contact tracing methods were not as productive, citing at least 50% of people testing positive were refusing to share their contacts with authorities
Reports said 288 new coronavirus cases were detected on Tuesday, bringing the total since the outbreak in the Republic to 35,297. In the meantime, 79 people are being treated in hospital for the disease, 22 of whom were said to be in serious condition.
In the midst of second thoughts over relaxing measures this month, a number of scientists and politicians also raised questions over the government’s focus on testing, arguing that the method was not being targeted in such a way to yield desirable or meaningful results.
DIKO president Nicholas Papadopoulos also criticized the government over details in the state’s plan to vaccinate people, with the center party opposition leader calling for a higher goal in daily vaccinations.
“A way has to be found to achieve the goal of 15,000 vaccinations per day, up from 3500 currently taking place,” Papadopoulos wrote on Twitter.
The DIKO president has been raising questions over the management of vaccine orders in the EU, with critics pointing out that other member states had bought vaccines on their own from non-EU approved vaccine manufacturers, such as China and Russia.
But state officials reject the idea of small European nations going it alone, saying the Cypriot government’s adherence to EU collective buying agreements as a bloc was beneficial to the island.
A government representative went on state radio Tuesday morning arguing that the bigger countries would have stronger purchasing power if EU nations were on their own, leaving Cyprus and other countries without the ability to secure vaccines in real market conditions.
Questions over contact tracing method
The Republic of Cyprus was at the top last month in terms of carrying out contact tracing tests, according to ECDC figures, with health ministry staff carrying on with the enormous task since last year to containing further spread of the coronavirus and its mutations.
But some health ministry officials recently admitted publicly that contact tracing methods were not as productive, citing at least 50% of people testing positive were refusing to share their contacts with authorities, resulting to clusters and infection chains going undetected during the most crucial time right after a case is detected.
Earlier this week, health experts learned that an educator in Limassol district could be “patient zero” in a cluster involving 44 persons including students, just as a plan for students going back to school was being unraveled.
An emergency meeting online between Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou and members of the government’s pandemic task force took place Tuesday afternoon to address the overall situation.