At least 30 infected people in Cyprus have been traced back to a single individual, who traveled across the island and spread the bug last month, but experts say 21 “orphan cases” are more alarming because their contacts cannot be traced at all.
Health expert Petros Karayiannis, who serves on the government’s coronavirus task force, says infection chains were fewer back in early spring during the lockdown because there were restrictive measures in place.
“Those typically were chains of infection within a family environment, but now we don’t have the lockdown, meaning the risk of spreading the virus is much higher,” the expert said.
Karayiannis went on to argue that the bigger problem for state health officials did not involve contacts of a woman who traveled from the USA and infected at least 30 people, saying all known suspected cases linked to her have been detected and health protocols were being followed.
“Right now there are 21 other cases that emerged through unknown origins, and this means we don’t know how they contracted the virus,” he said.
'Those typically were chains of infection within a family environment, but now we don’t have the lockdown, meaning the risk of spreading the virus is much higher'
Karayiannis explained that the concern was not just 21 orphan cases per se but many others in the community who have not been detected.
On Saturday, the health ministry announced 11 new Covid-19 cases were detected in the Republic of Cyprus, bringing the number of known confirmed cases since the outbreak of the pandemic in Cyprus to 1233.
Four of the eleven cases were detected from clusters linked to the female traveler from the USA, while two others emerged in other clusters.
Four others tested positive through private imitative, two of whom had traveled abroad recently, while another person was found to have been infected through a private test prior to getting back to work.
The Republic of Cyprus has been carrying out an aggressive contact tracing scheme from the very beginning of the pandemic, meaning the country was able to contain the coronavirus relatively easy. But a recent spike in Limassol turned things upside down in July.
Some experts pointed the finger at risk-assessment measures in airports after they re-opened in early June, with many infected passengers thought to have passed through undetected.
Orphan cases, where contact tracing methods cannot be effective, pose a greater risk, leaving the government with fewer options short of imposing more restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19.
New and partial lockdowns have, thus far, been ruled out according to state officials, with some experts saying Cyprus could not endire financially a second general lockdown if it were to be imposed again.