Daily deaths due to COVID-19 hit a new record in the Republic of Cyprus, with seven hospitalized patients losing the battle on Easter Monday and health officials avoiding comment on what measures will replace the lockdown next week.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the health ministry announced on Monday the death of seven patients who had been infected with the novel coronavirus, but there was no information on whether the bug was a known variant in any of the cases.
Three of the patients who passed away, two women aged 82 and a 52-year-old man, had been vaccinated, according to an official statement, which also said the remaining four patients, three women aged 85, 95, and 97 along with a 73-year-old male patient, had no vaccination history.
The seven deaths were a new record for the Republic, which completed the first of two weeks of its third lockdown that started at the beginning of Holy Week.
Tsioutis called on all citizens to do their fair share and get educated about the pandemic, adding that vaccinations were 'the best weapon at this time' to return to normality
Health experts said it was too early to draw conclusions on the effectiveness of the lockdown during the Greek Orthodox Holy Week, when relaxation measures went into effect including last-minute revisions that allowed people to move in a less restricted manner.
Government officials declined to share details on measures after the lockdown is scheduled to end May 9, with local media reporting on the most likely option where pre-lockdown restrictions would be reinstated.
The head of the government’s pandemic advisory committee, Constantinos Tsioutis, told CNA that the public health task force would not comment on current measures let alone future measures or relaxations.
Tsioutis instead called on all citizens to do their fair share and get educated about the pandemic, adding that vaccinations were “the best weapon at this time” to return to normality.
Another member of the advisory committee, Petros Karayiannis, spoke on state radio Tuesday morning, saying the committee would meet to discuss issues but measures were not on the agenda.
Big debate over immunity proof
Last December Tsioutis predicted that targeted measures would continue to be in place until summer 2021 but not necessarily in strict form.
According to Kathimerini Cyprus, the government has been leaning towards measures in the spirit of a “green pass” similar to that in effect in Israel.
Last month, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou alluded to measures expected to go into effect on May 10, a day after the end of the lockdown, including a requirement where people going to indoor public places would be required to prove they had immunity against COVID-19.
But Kathimerini’s Yiannos Lytras reported it was still unclear whether the government would seek to impose the immunity proof requirement, citing strong opposition by stakeholders who described the idea as an “excessively strict” measure.
Questions raised over privacy
The Cyprus Bar Association also weighed in on the discussion last month, with the network’s president Christos Clerides raising serious legal questions over the requirement.
Following public debate over the issue, privacy commissioner Irene Loizidou Nikolaidou issued a statement pointing out that burden of proof rests on citizens when it comes to showing documents to authorized officials, such as police officers or health inspectors, in accordance with emergency health laws.
But the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection also said no other person had the power to demand any document proof from citizens who wished to gain entry to a business establishment for any purpose.