Half of all coronavirus cases detected in July thus far came from local infections, with officials scrambling to break chains in Limassol where three more cases were added on Monday with a total of five suspected clusters.
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According to the Cyprus News Agency, the health ministry in the Republic of Cyprus announced on Monday three new COVID-19 cases from a total of 1855 tests.
Up until recently, most detected cases were imported through travel while local infections were on the increase since the beginning of this month, including “orphan cases” particularly in Limassol where the source of infection remained unknown.
Based on Monday’s announced results, a Filipina living in Cyprus tested positive out of 177 samples taken by private initiative. CNA reported that the woman returned from the Philippines on July 17, when she remained isolated at home in Limassol.
Many cases in Limassol did not fit the epidemiological data seen elsewhere on the island, giving rise to fears that an endemic could be in the works
But two other cases out of 103 samples through contact tracing came back positive on Monday, also in Limassol, with overall numbers since the beginning of July reaching 61 in the Republic of Cyprus, with 22 out of 29 local infections detected in the southern town.
Government officials said 3000 random tests would begin on Tuesday to ascertain how big a spread there may be primarily in Limassol but also other areas.
Experts said many cases in Limassol did not fit the epidemiological data seen elsewhere on the island, giving rise to fears that an endemic could be in the works, meaning an infection that is constantly maintained within a population in a specific geographic area.
At least four potential clusters were defined in Limassol with some businesses shutting down restaurants for complete disinfections.
According to some local media outlets, a fifth cluster was being suspected also in Limassol, with one of the three cases announced on Monday possibly linked to a local man, who was described as an “orphan case” back on July 24.
Another confirmed case had emerged after a local woman experienced symptoms of the coronavirus, including lack of taste. Following her positive test, four colleagues also tested positive at a restaurant on the marina.
Government mulling mask mandate
Authorities have called on members of the public and businesses to remain vigilant and follow public health protocols. Health experts said it was not unlikely that the government might seek to mandate the use of masks if other measures fail to halt the spread of the virus.
The total number of known confirmed cases in the Republic of Cyprus has reached 1060, while Turkish Cypriot officials said there were 135 total cases in the north after two cases were detected Monday out of 1391 tests.
Both cases in the north were described as imported cases, with one traveler being a tourist who initially tested negative but then started showing symptoms and tested positive seven days later and remained in hospital for treatment.
The other case involved a male traveler who was self-isolated in a Kyrenia hotel awaiting his lab results. After being told he was positive and had to follow protocol to get tested again, he reportedly picked up his bags without telling anyone and traveled back to Turkey.
Turkish Cypriot authorities said they contacted law enforcement in Turkey regarding the incident.