A government scientist said on Wednesday there was currently no second wave of coronavirus, at least not yet.
Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infection Prevention and Control at the European University and specialist with training in infection control, Constantinos Tsioutis, told CNA the world was still going through the first wave of Covid-19.
To see a second wave, numbers would have to have dropped off dramatically and then have risen again, he said.
“What we see will happen over the coming months is that the first wave will continue at the same rate,” he said. “It will continue into the autumn. So, what we will probably see is a continuation of the current situation, because a second wave would mean a significant drop and then a new rise but this is not what we are seeing with the current data,” Tsioutis added.
Tsioutis said the situation across the globe was not particularly encouraging especially in the US, India, Brazil and South Africa.
“It is predicted that in some of these countries the flow of cases will continue to increase,” the scientist said.
He warned that just because the situation in Cyprus appeared good, it did not mean people should let their guard down.
“Cyprus has some peculiarities and we managed very quickly to control the situation,” said Tsioutis. “Airports have been opened, there is mobility in Cyprus and many Cypriots are traveling. This means that we must be careful because this virus has two characteristics. One is the long incubation time and the other is the rate of asymptomatic carriers.”
Tsioutis said what was being observed, at least in Cyprus was that people were quite relaxed.
“A good situation brings about a very positive psychological state that affects practices and habits and maybe that is part of our culture as a people. But we must understand that the virus is still out there, and it is very easy for it to reappear and spread very quickly. For this reason, people should, as much as possible, introduce the habits of protection measures into their daily lives and realise it will be like this for a long time to come.”
Referring to a possible vaccine, Tsioutis there may be one by the end of the year, or early in 2021.
“There is the question of how easily it will be available worldwide, how many doses will be needed, and what exactly will be the duration of the efficacy and immunity it will bring. We believe that vaccines are the solution globally, but a rough prediction is that at least until the spring of 2021 we will continue as we are now,” he added.
Asked about new information that the virus is airborne as laid out in a letter to the WHO by a group of global scientists this week, Tsioutis said this was nothing new.
“We know that the virus is transmitted mainly by droplets from person to person in close contact. This is well known and documented. This letter simply emphasises the fact that under certain conditions the virus can be transmitted by air over longer distances. It is not new knowledge, we knew this, we have seen it in studies and in various reports,” the scientist said.
“This is not the main mode of transmission and requires certain conditions. Guidelines are being put in place for appropriate environmental conditions to reduce this possibility, such as proper and good ventilation,” he added.
Tsioutis predicted there would be further relaxations of restrictive measures in Cyprus.
“I believe that some dates will come earlier and there will be additional relaxation in the number of people in various open spaces and for various events because the epidemiological picture allows it. All this is done on the condition that the protocols are followed. If the protocols are not followed, what we are expected to see is an increase, which will ring the alarm bell and then we will have to go at least one step back,” he said.
Talking about the use of gloves, Tsioutis said that in line with the recent guidelines of the European Infectious Diseases Control Centre, they should not be mandatory in the community with specific exceptions within professions that should be using gloves anyway.
“Their use will not be necessary,” he said. “If the gloves are not used properly, they can be dangerous.” In the same way as unwashed hands, gloves worn for hours can also carry germs and people may think they are protected just because they are wearing them.
“Distancing and hand hygiene are more important than wearing gloves,” said Tsioutis.