The health ministry on Wednesday confirmed 20 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 715.
The new cases include three from the 20,000 planned tests that are being carried out on people who are working and come in contact with the public, eight through contact tracing, two people who got tested through a private initiative and seven that arrived on Monday from London. They were on the same flight as one more person who was among those recorded as testing positive on Tuesday.
So far 12 people have died from Covid-19 in Cyprus, while five others who had the virus died of other health issues.
Nine people are on ventilators: three at the intensive care unit of the Limassol general hospital and six at that of Nicosia. Three more patients not on ventilators are also being treated at the Nicosia ICU. Their condition is critical but stable.
Four more cases were detected in the north on Wednesday, bringing the total to 104. Two of the four new cases detected on Wednesday were a couple aged 82 and 78, neither of whom had symptoms. The husband, who was to have surgery, tested positive to the virus during pre-surgery tests.
According to virologist Dr Leontios Kostrikis the fact that only 20 cases were detected among 2,312 samples, was positive.
“The results of the last 24 hours are within the estimates of the scientific team and are in line with the epidemiological and statistical picture we have before us,” he said after announcing the new cases.
Precautionary testing on 20,000 employees of the public and private sector for Covid-19 is ongoing. So far 3,034 lab tests have been completed of the 20,000.
Cabinet on Wednesday mandated coronavirus testing for all workers in food and drink outlets after numerous cases were confirmed in a supermarket and a bakery. The same also concerns those working in old people’s homes. They are required to test for the coronavirus within the next 14 days.
Kostrikkis said that this measure was very important, adding that it had also been decided that they would name businesses that serve people if employees there are tested positive to coronavirus.
“In such cases, the entire staff will be immediately recalled and not just close contacts,” he said.
Kostrikkis said that authorities wanted to make use of this period when people are restricted at home to more easily trace people infected with the virus.
“We call on the people to make use of the free testing scheme,” he said.
On Wednesday, 1,112 samples have been taken from state hospital staff for coronavirus tests.
Clinical director of state health organisation, Okypy, in Nicosia Dr Marios Loizou referred to the importance of Cyprus’ health system preparedness as regards the pandemic.
“We knew the weaknesses of state hospitals […] but we also knew the capabilities of our hospitals,” he said, adding that the accumulated experience of public hospitals in dealing with difficult and urgent situations has helped significantly.
“We were able to pull through. Initial difficulties and possible mistakes have been overcome,” Loizou said.
He said authorities were able to organise themselves in a short period of time, while hospitals and wards were turned in departments for Covid-19 cases and new intensive care units were prepared “in no time.”
He also praised the healthcare workers, who, he said, have been working for a month and half now and have reached their limits. “In their majority, after the initially justified fear and bewilderment, they were thrown into battle.”
It is the duty of the state to stabilise and strengthen the capabilities of the public health system, both in terms of equipment and personnel, he said, stressing that what was important is for the healthcare system to be able to withstand a new influx of cases.
“The dedication and sacrifice of the front-line staff must be an example and a challenge at the same time, both for the political leadership and for each of us individually, to do everything we can to overcome this pandemic,” Loizou said.