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Coronavirus: several cases detected among vulnerable groups, experts concerned

Experts have voiced concerns in recent days over the detection of several coronavirus cases among vulnerable groups of the population who are being screened as part of a health ministry programme.

Health authorities have detected six such cases out of 207 tests, raising the alarm since they all concern vulnerable people who are being tested as part of a programme to prevent the virus from spreading.

The group includes cancer patients before treatment or rehabilitation, people awaiting surgery, pregnant women, elderly people who will be admitted into care homes, individual with mental problems who will be admitted into psychiatric facilities, abused children before they enter safe homes, addicts who will undergo treatment, trafficking victims, and first-degree relatives of people in critical condition in ICUs for the purpose of visiting them.

Professor of microbiology and molecular virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Petros Karayiannis said it was concerning because they did not appear to know how they got infected.

Most, he said, are confined at home because of the situation so perhaps someone close to them who is asymptomatic has infected them.

“It is very difficult to say where the infection came from. This tells us that we have cases out there who are perhaps asymptomatic, and some are transmitting (the virus,” he said.

Karayiannis said vulnerable people should protect themselves even more now that restrictions were eased.

“Of course, this does not mean they should shut themselves in jail; they can go out for a walk but with their mask on and keeping distances from those they meet.”

Karayiannis, who is a member of the health ministry’s advisory committee, stressed that people in closed public spaces must wear masks.

The committee is scheduled to meet with President Nicos Anastasiades on Friday to discuss the situation ahead of the planned second phase of easing the restrictions.

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