Coronavirus infections went up considerably on Friday in the Republic of Cyprus, with 25 people testing positive including and handful of imported and orphan cases but mainly individuals infected locally through contact with known carriers.
After weeks and months of having a low infection rate and near-zero cases in Cyprus, the two previous days saw the daily count getting into double digits.
On Friday, according to the health ministry, at least 15 confirmed cases were detected through contact tracing linked to three individuals in Limassol, who tested positive earlier this week.
Most cases through contact tracing
Specifically, nine new cases were linked to a Ukrainian woman in Limassol who was announced positive on Tuesday, while another five cases were contacts of an insurance company employee in the southern town that was announced on Thursday.
Another person was infected through contact with another case in Limassol that was detected on Wednesday, while five other tests through the contact tracing method in Larnaca emerged positive after being linked to a previous carrier who traveled from the United States.
Imported and orphan cases
Three cases were imported, including a person who traveled from Greece and tested positive after giving a sample through a private initiative. The other traveler was a Bulgarian national who presented a negative test when she landed in Cyprus on July 25 but tested positive after taking a test requested by her hotel employer.
Another person tested positive after arriving on a flight from Lebanon, while two individuals were confirmed to have contracted the bug after showing symptoms but their infection source was not immediately known.
But health officials admitted during a press conference that many travelers who test negative prior to boarding a flight could in fact test positive days after their arrival
Local media also pointed out 15 out of 20 confirmed cases on Friday had violated self-isolation guidelines in order to get tested. Reports said those individuals had been scheduled to give samples in state medical facilities but chose to violate protocols and visited private labs.
Seven patients were said to be receiving medical treatment at the coronavirus referral hospital in Famagusta, one of whom had to be admitted in the Intensive Care Unit.
The latest spike in COVID-19 cases came on the same day the Republic of Cyprus announced new measures, including the mandatory use of face masks in certain situations, and also one day shy of British arrivals being bumped up to Category B for travelers.
Passengers from Category B must have undergone laboratory tests at least 72 hours before their departure and have obtained a certificate proving they tested negative.
But health officials admitted during a press conference that many travelers who test negative prior to boarding a flight could in fact be infected around the same time of making their journey and test positive days after their arrival on the island.
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou announced more tests for arriving passengers at the airports, raising the combined total of random samples at Larnaca and Paphos terminals from 600 to 1000 daily. Random tests on low-risk-category passengers were at 300 for most of July.
But some experts have cried foul, saying all arriving passengers should be tested upon landing, citing a number of cases that may have gone undetected through the risk category scheme currently in place at airports.
Ioannou defended the risk category scheme and insisted that complacency was the main reason Limassol had seen flare-ups in the month of July.
But other experts argued complacency had also been an issue throughout the island, saying Limassol was doing well compared to other districts until most likely infected flight passengers started pouring in without checks.