Clusters amongst partygoers and highly contagious infections undetected for several weeks have emerged in the Republic of Cyprus, causing headaches for officials who are now going through guest lists line by line to track down hundreds of people before it is too late.
According to local media, two COVID clusters of a still-unknown variant have been detected by Cypriot health officials this week, one regarding a junior high school graduation party in Nicosia while the other was a wedding.
Media reports said 17 students aged between 14 and 15 were detected as being part of a cluster, believed to have started by a female student who had coronavirus symptoms on the day of their graduation party.
'While we were waiting for the new wave to start in the fall, probably it will start now, let me just say it in Cypriot tongue: we gonna get burned right in the middle of the summer season'
As it later turned out, according to officials, another female acquaintance had tested positive for COVID-19 but never listed the girl as a contact, resulting to the infected person attending graduation where at least 16 others were said to have been infected.
The wedding cluster was said to include 6 known infections within the close social circle of the bride. Officials have reportedly asked for the entire guest list in an attempt to track down patient zero.
The news came as a health ministry press release on Thursday said more variants of the coronavirus had been detected in 170 samples, based on the latest ECDC information sent to Cypriot authorities, regarding samples dated between 9 March and 11 June.
The British variant was detected in 158 samples while the Indian mutation was confirmed in 5 samples taken between 25 April and 26 May.
But according to the latest batch of test results, the first Indian mutation detected on the island was not found an arriving passenger but a person in the community who had not traveled.
Health expert Petros Karayiannis, who sits on the government’s advisory committee for the pandemic, explained that while it was well established that two cases of the Delta variant were detected in people when they reached the island, predated samples sent to Germany in a batch later on have shown that the highly-contagious Indian mutation was already in Cyprus.
Many unknowns and Delta Plus
Reports also said that 7 out of the 170 samples tested positive for the Β.1.525 variant, which the ECDC has classified as variants of interest (VOI) and not variants of concern (VOC) like the British, the South African, the Brazilian and Indian variants.
Some media have made references to a “Delta Plus” mutation with health experts saying Β.1.525 is being closely monitored.
But for the time being, experts conclude, there is no scientific indication that this variant is causing a more serious illness or increases the rate of transmission.
Delta presence in Cyprus has gone up
The Cypriot health ministry said more data were needed to draw safer conclusions on the extent of the spread of the Delta variant, adding there was no doubt the mutation’s presence on the island had gone up.
Karayiannis said there ought to have been a higher percentage in those vaccinated “if we want to halt the spread of the virus.”
“While we were waiting for the new wave to start in the fall, probably it will start now, let me just say it in Cypriot tongue: we gonna get burned right in the middle of the summer season,” Karayiannis warned.