Health experts in Cyprus are urging the public to adhere to protective measures especially during the holiday weekend, with officials warning that even though daily Covid infections have dropped, things could get worse if hospitalizations don’t go down this month.
The Health Ministry on Wednesday announced five deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 484 new cases from a total of 54,249 tests, with the positivity rate dropping to 0.89%.
There were 92 infected patients hospitalized in serious condition, 51 of whom were intubated, 4 in intensive care, and 37 receiving specialized medical care.
It was not known how many serious cases in hospitals were vaccinated or not, as the health ministry does not provide data on vaccination status. But officials have been providing a figure on overall hospitalizations, with the latest reaching 84.10% of all 264 patients in hospitals who were not vaccinated.
The overall drop in daily cases was not unpredictable, according to Petros Karayiannis who sits on the government’s pandemic advisory committee.
Karayiannis said last week on the Cyprus Digest podcast that restricting free rapid tests for the unvaccinated in the month of August was “an attempt by the government to drop the cumulative positivity rate over a 14-day period per 100,000 population.”
'Because Cyprus has been so good in doing all these tests, we have been penalized by being put in the red country category' Karayiannis said
“Because Cyprus has been so good in doing all these tests, we have been penalized by being put in the red country category,” Karayiannis said, adding a reduction in the cumulative positivity rate would earn the country status in the orange or even green category.
The drop in cases was welcome news in the scientific community but not the whole story.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, local epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis says “the number of cases might have gone down but hospitalizations remain stable.”
Voniatis, who has been sharing his overviews of the pandemic publicly and frequently, told CNA that if the situation did not subside soon, “then September will be a difficult month.”
The warning follows statements from other health experts, including Karayiannis, who warned citizens earlier this week to adhere to health protocols during the weekend, as it is the most popular summer holiday for Greek Cypriots that also coincides with the religious Ascension of Virgin Mary on August 15.
Both experts have been calling for more vaccinations in AUgust, arguing this month would be critical before the fall.
But Voniatis said he did not believe complete vaccinations could be achieved by the end of September.
"If we do not adhere to taking measures, then the possibility of infecting even vaccinated people is greater and they in turn can transmit the virus, even if they might not become very sick,” Voniatis argued.
Experts have called on members of the public including vaccinated persons to wear a face mask when necessary and avoid areas where people tend to congregate.