"If schools reopen on January 10th there will be an enormous spread of COVID-19", Dr. Petros Karayiannis, member of the scientific committee on the pandemic told the Cyprus News Agency while expressing the hope that during tomorrow`s meeting with the Health Minister, the right decisions will be made.
Daily new coronavirus cases recorded in Cyprus in the last week have seen a huge spike. On Sunday, 3,538 new cases were reported with a positivity rate of 3.87%.
Karayiannis said that right now there is concern over the reopening of the schools in safe conditions adding that they hoped that during the festive season there would have been a drop in the cases as schools remain closed, however, the Omicron infections did not allow this to happen and we see more cases in the family environment.
Therefore, he said, we expect an enormous spread if schools open and this won`t happen in normal conditions as a large number of kids and teachers are in isolation either because they got infected or because they are close contacts of cases.
Invited to comment on the same issue when he paid a visit to Larnaka General Hospital earlier today, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said that he will wait to hear the opinions of the experts with whom he will have a meeting on Tuesday.
Asked what other measures could be taken, Dr. Karayiannis said that it is necessary to examine all the figures by the contact tracing unit and to see where all the cases are. He said that if these cases are in the family environment then there is not much to be done but to reduce the number of people in house gatherings from 20 to 10, adding, however, that this measure could be meaningless after the Christmas holidays.
He also said that they expected a rise in hospitalizations and this was not something odd as there continues to be a high number of cases. He said they are expecting more of an increase but hoped that this will not place so much pressure on the health system which could result in its collapse.
Dr. Karayiannis also said that there is, for the first time, a rise in intubated patients and their number is now more than 30.
The head of the trade unions of primary teachers, high school teachers and technical education teachers told the Cyprus News Agency that there is a great deal of concern because of the high number of cases, adding that the issue of whether or not the schools should re-open must be dealt with the soonest.
OELMEK Head (Union of high school teachers) Costas Hadjisavvas said that rumors as to whether or not the schools will re-open should be put to rest. He said that they need to be briefed as soon as possible as to what is going to happen. Hadjisavvas also noted that the decision will greatly affect high school seniors who are waiting to take exams and to proceed with their applications to universities.
Secretary-General of OLTEK (technical schools) Lenos Loizou said that so far what they know is that students will return to schools on January 10th. He also urged the Ministers of Health and Education to make their final decisions soon.
Head of POED, the primary school teachers union, Maria Vasiliadou said that schools should open with the physical presence of the kids, however, measures and protocols should be in place for a safe return. She also said that measures should be taken for substitute teachers.