The number of hospitalized patients being treated for COVID-19 in the Republic of Cyprus has reached dangerous levels, with experts and government officials under criticism for lack of decisive action during the holidays.
More deaths were attributed to COVID-19 over the weekend in Cyprus, with local media saying the total number of hospitalized patients with a coronavirus infection was reaching dangerous levels.
It was not specified whether any hospitalized patients had been infected with a highly contagious strain of COVID-19, which cropped up across the UK late last year and announced to WHO in mid-December.
The government has been on the receiving end of calls from experts to take stricter measures, after it emerged that holiday measures were not effective
According to government officials, 19 travelers who flew from the United Kingdom to the island as late as December 20, had tested positive for COVID-19 with health officials re-testing their samples over the weekend and finding 12 of them had the mutation, which has been shown to have high transmission rates.
Cypriot experts said they were trying to evaluate the situation to determine to what extent was the new strain of the coronavirus spread in the community.
In the meantime, officials on Monday called for more hospital beds as they expected the number of coronavirus patients to go up in the coming days.
Lockdown and SMS back on the table
Nicosia has been criticized over recent measures during the winter holidays, which included curfew flexibility on special days and avoiding a lockdown compared to other European countries including Greece, which announced a one-week strict lockdown starting Sunday.
Media speculation pointed to a possible lockdown or lockdown-like measures, including the possibility of Cyprus’ Interior Ministry re-instituting SMS service 8998. The service was used last year when citizens were required to notify authorities via text message to get approval before going outside for a legitimate reason.
Referral hospital has one bed available
The Cyprus News Agency reported there were 182 patients in hospitals, with 45 in serious condition. Sunday figures showed 74 beds were occupied at Famagusta General Hospital, which serves as a referral centre during the pandemic, with just one bed available.
Health experts were set to meet in the early part of the week, Monday or Tuesday, to assess the situation before the President’s Cabinet was scheduled to meet later this week. The Cabinet meeting was tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus’ Apostolos Tomaras, the government has been on the receiving end of calls from experts to take stricter measures, after it emerged that holiday measures were not effective.