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20 May, 2024
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Pandemic: New Year's Eve under consideration

A new package of measures is coming before the New Year, more will follow after the end of the festive season

Apostolis Tomaras

Apostolis Tomaras

Experts are preparing for a difficult winter, what remains of it that is, due to the manifestation of the aggressive Omicron mutation. Like other European countries, Cyprus is experiencing a difficult period, a few days before the new year. The 1925 new cases detected by health checks last Monday, prove to be the tip of the iceberg. The results of Tuesday's tests (2241 new cases (positivity rate: 2.29%), showed that for the next period, unknown for how long, Cyprus will move into four-digit case numbers with one record-breaking the previous one. The only positive element is that the number of hospitalizations seems to be moving below 179, a ceiling recorded on December 20, 2021. A development that reduces, slightly, the pressure of serious incidents on the health system. However, in reality, the high number of new cases is expected to have a negative impact on the daily lives of citizens, as it is considered certain that it will lead to additional measures before the New Year, depending on the way it will affect the period after the festive season. As of Wednesday the Minister of Health, Michalis Hadjipandelas convened an extraordinary meeting with the Scientific Advisory Committee, in order to listen to their suggestions regarding the situation.

According to expert evaluations, the greatest spread of the virus has been seen in the ages of 40 to 45, both unvaccinated and vaccinated.

Three days before New Year's Eve, the government and epidemiologists do not seem to want to impose measures that will affect the festive atmosphere of the next few days, while it seems, according to our sources, that the President of the Republic is also in accord. Sources told Kathimerini that the additional measures on the table are not expected to move in the direction of tightening health checks in restaurants and entertainment venues. Along the same lines, the same sources, excluded any thought of restricting traffic in venues. During the meeting with the members of the Scientific Advisory Committee, the increase of the teleworking rate in the public and private sector will be examined in detail in order to limit daily movements and contacts. The second measure will concern the checks at gathering places, possibly imposing stricter and requiring that tests will be mandatory. Regarding the sectors of the economy, i.e. businesses, there are no suggestions on stricter measures up until the New Year, but this may change based on the number of cases recorded.

Based on their actions, or lack of it, the Committee has a slim chance of achieving their goal, which is to reduce or control the number of cases resulting from the Omicron variant, especially during New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when most social gatherings happen indoors. And despite concerns, the government and epidemiologists seem to maintain the existing framework with the view that taking additional measures would, in essence, be a gift during the holidays and would be counter to the implementation of stricter measures.

In fact, the attention of the pandemic management team is focused on after the New Year holidays, since the estimates on the number of cases due to the Omicron variant are not auspicious. The existing train of thought seems to be targeted interventions that may also involve sectors of the economy. At the political level, the possibility of harsh measures after the New Year is not ruled out, especially in places where the virus will spread. The area of catering and entertainment is under close surveillance. The extreme scenario, which will depend on the epidemiological picture, will require the closure of spaces while the best-case scenario will be to allow them to operate only until midnight. It is questionable what will happen to schools after the holidays if the epidemiological data does not change. For the time being, the possibility of students not returning to schools does not seem to be a concern, however, everything will be evaluated from the picture of that period. Current data suggest that the spread of the virus does not come from primary schools.

Slight recession in hospitalizations

In the current climate, the only indicator that shows signs of recession is hospitalization (168 on Tuesday). December 20, 2021 recorded the highest number of serious incidents (179). Since then, there has been a gradual decline to 161 as of last Monday. The fact that there is no proportional trend of new cases-hospitalizations, is essentially the factor that allows government and epidemiologists to be restrained by taking other measures. According to expert evaluations, the greatest spread of the virus has been seen in the ages of 40 to 45, both unvaccinated and vaccinated.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]


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