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Opinions differ on cause of recent spike

Minister blames Limassol spike on complacency, expert points finger at airport checks


The Cypriot health minister says complacency is to blame in the recent spike of coronavirus cases locally, but a health expert on the government’s task force is pointing the finger at the opening of airports last month.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Thursday called on everyone not to fall into complacency, a day after thirteen tests came back positive and fears grew following a recent spike in Limassol.

Ioannou, who addressed the issue briefly during an event involving the delivery medical supplies donated by the US Embassy, said the situation was “something that worries us.”

“Unfortunately there is complacency within the community from all of us and this has brought an increase in coronavirus cases, the minister said.

But health expert Petros Karayiannis, who serves on the government’s coronavirus task force, pointed to the airports as a significant factor in the overall timeline of the epidemiological picture of the island.

Karayiannis said many 'orphan cases' in Limassol could have originated from contact with infected travelers, who came back through the island's airports undetected

Karayiannis, who went on local TV stations on Wednesday and also spoke on state radio Thursday early morning, acknowledged that there were violations of protocols but maintained that the situation changed for the worst after the opening of airports. This included many infections of unknown origins in several clusters in Limassol, he said, something not seen previously.

Recent spikes were detected in Limassol, Karayiannis said, a town that had kept a good epidemiological profile throughout the pandemic compared to other districts.

But while complacency was an issue, it was a problem across all districts in the Republic of Cyprus, Karayiannis said, adding that “orphan cases” in Limassol may have originated from contact with unidentified infected travelers who came back through the island's airports undetected.

“It appears that after the re-opening of the airports, someone or a number of people came from abroad, maybe even from countries in category A - which does not require a health certificate showing negative to the coronavirus – perhaps some of them brought the virus into the community,” Karayiannis said.

“Even if you bring proof of a negative test, we had cases where they tested positive later, so the risk was also there,” he added.

The health minister insisted that if everyone complied and followed existing rules, some 90 guidelines and regulations, there would be no need for further measures.

Karayiannis also echoed the need for adhering to health protocols, calling on Limassolians to remain vigilant. But the expert also said the danger was real in all districts, as infected people in the southern town may have travelled to other districts.

Cyprus  |  Limassol  |  Ioannou  |  Karayiannis  |  public health  |  pandemic  |  coronavirus

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