Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou expressed concern over the spread of the British coronavirus variant in Cyprus, issuing a fresh call to the public to comply with measures in place to contain the pandemic so that "the worst scenario can be averted."
In statements after a meeting with the leadership of the State Health Services Organisation on Thursday, Ioannou reiterated that the capacity of public hospitals to treat coronavirus patients has been increased from 250 beds to 400, stressing that that’s as high as the number can go with the number of available human resources.
This, he said, is a problem faced by all countries and that is why most European countries have imposed a full lockdown since last November.
Cyprus moved forward with additional relaxations on Tuesday citing a growing fatigue among the public, but Ioannou said Thursday that daily new cases aren’t showing signs of stabilization, “which is a cause of concern.”
Ioannou issued a new appeal to the public to show cooperation, allowing measures to be as effective as possible.
On the spread of the UK coronavirus variant, which has been identified as the driving force behind the island’s latest epidemiological deterioration, Ioannou said that results from 45 positive samples sent to the ECDC for analysis found that the more transmissible variant was present in all samples.
This, he said, "is of particular concern for us because despite the sample sent being small, the fact that the British variant was present in all 45 samples indicates that the British variant has spread widely among the community."
Commenting on the AstraZeneca vaccine, Ioannou said that the 37 incidents of thrombosis reported after 17 million vaccinations constitute a percentage which would have been the case even if none of those millions had gotten the jab. Following the island’s suspension of inoculations with the AstraZeneca vaccine, Cyprus is waiting on the EMA’s opinion on the matter on Thursday, which Ioannou said is expected to be a green light for the resumption of inoculations with the vaccine produced by the British-Swedish company. This scenario would see appointments open up next week.
The Health Minister said Cyprus expects its first batch of Janssen vaccines in mid-April. The island is set to receive a total of 200,000 Johnson&Johnson vaccines, 55,000 of which are expected in the second quarter.
Regarding the Russian Sputnik-V jab, Ioannou said Cyprus has decided to enter in a pre-negotiation of purchase which will be activate when the vaccine is licensed in the EU.