Health experts in Cyprus are becoming increasingly concerned following reports of three clusters of coronavirus in Limassol, but it has yet to be clarified whether there is any connection between clusters.
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According to local media, health officials went on alert as details of three clusters were emerging this week, with added concern over the fact that all were detected in just one town.
In one cluster, a Cypriot woman who flew from Israel on special permission and tested negative at the airport on July 21, ended up testing positive days later after developing symptoms and visiting her doctor. It was not fully clear whether officials know how and precisely when she got infected in the first place.
Two days later, her boyfriend, her brother and his child also tested positive, with one of the three described as being asymptomatic, in other words no visible signs of carrying the bug.
A third individual who tested positive on July 19 was found to be a co-worker of the gym trainer who also worked a second job
In another cluster, three persons have tested positive with a Cypriot gym employee initially taking a test on July 13 after having developed symptoms.
A second person, who tested positive two days later, was described as a contact of the first carrier, with reports saying the transmission must have taken place at the gym.
But the first carrier is not thought to have transmitted the virus only through the gym, as a third individual who tested positive on July 19 was found to be a co-worker of the gym trainer who also worked a second job.
The transmission area or infection rate within the cluster is not yet known, but local media reported that many people have been ordered to self-isolate as health administrators were tracing contacts.
A third cluster in Limassol, which dates back before the two other suspected clusters, include four individuals all of whom are employed on an oil platform.
Knews reported earlier this month that health officials were on high alert after two contacts, who tested positive for the coronavirus, were linked to a traveler who landed in the Republic of Cyprus the previous month.
It later turned out that a total of four individuals, who work on an oil platform through a Limassol company, all tested positive after two employees who came in contact with an infected carrier were instructed by the company to get tested.
The two individuals had come in contact with the first carrier, who flew from the United States on June 20 via a low-risk European country.
Reports said the first carrier, described as a foreign national on a work visa, got a connection flight in Greece and landed at Larnaca International Airport through a low-risk category, which did not require a health certificate prior to boarding the flight.
But according to local media, frontline health officials stationed at Larnaca airport selected the man through a random testing scheme, with the test coming back negative.
Reports later said he developed symptoms and got tested again at Limassol General Hospital, with results showing on June 29 he had contracted the virus while another contact in the same cluster tested positive the following day.
Minister says Cyprus ready for new outbreak
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou reiterated this week the government’s readiness to address a possible new COVID-19 outbreak, assuring that the ministry was monitoring developments.
"We are monitoring developments worldwide and updating our strategy, aiming of course at having the least impact both on our patients and the healthcare system," Ioannou said.
"I would like to reaffirm the government’s readiness to address a new outbreak,” the minister added.
The Republic of Cyprus has been aggressively pursuing contact tracing since the beginning of the outbreak, before, during, and after a general lockdown.