Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Cases should drop to previous low levels ‘in two to three weeks’

Leontios Kostrikis, Professor of Molecular Biology at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Cyprus (CNA)

In around two to three weeks, the epidemiological situation is expected to return to the low levels Cyprus saw prior to the recent outbreak in Limassol, Professor of Biotechnology and Virology at University of Cyprus, and government adviser Leontios Kostrikis said on Wednesday.

He also said that the virus appeared to be less pathogenic, and that Cyprus was not experiencing a second wave.

Kostrikis told CNA that three weeks, with the latest measures, was enough to stop the chain of transmission. New cases have been in the double digits mostly over the past week, prompting a new decree that the public wear masks in enclosed public spaces on pain of a €300 fine.

“I hope that after two or three weeks after the announcement of protective measures by the minister of health we will return to the levels we were at before,” said Kostrikis.

“What I want to see in Cyprus until the introduction of the vaccine, is to have small numbers, numbers that are close to zero.”

Commenting on the recent high number of new cases in Limassol, he said most came from contact tracing and a few from travellers.

“At the end of this week, at the beginning of the next, I hope we will start to see the results of the measures and have a drop.”

Kostrikis said numbers were up in all cities. The results of 4,000 tests found that Nicosia and Paphos had the lowest percentage of new confirmed cases at around 0.35 per cent. Limassol had the highest rate of infection with 1.2 per cent, but the adviser stressed that the sampling there was not random. They were people who had contact with confirmed cases and went to take the test. The rate of those tested in Larnaca and Famagusta was close to 1 per cent, he added.

Another observation was that the confirmed cases this time were mainly younger people who are not as impacted by the virus as older people who may have comorbidities and weakened immune systems. Kostrikis said the concern here was that these newly infected younger people could pass the virus on to the elderly.

“We must not rest on our laurels just because it is younger people and we will obviously have fewer hospital admissions that it will stay that way,” he added.

He also suggested the virus was adapting, a factor which also emerged internationally on Wednesday.

“Some epidemiologists have suggested that the virus has weakened, pointing to a relatively low number of people being hospitalised,” Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Kostrikis said: “The virus is more adaptable…. when a virus adapts to an organism it becomes less pathogenic but multiplies at a faster rate. And this seems to be indicative of the new clinical conditions of the latest infections, that is, people do not have as much pathogenesis as before – they do not send people to hospitals.”

However it also means the virus is more resistant and takes longer to eradicate, he said.

At the same time, Kostrikis said Cyprus was not seeing a second wave. If it were a wave, the resurgence would appear in all areas at the same rate. “I do not define it as a wave at the moment,” he said.

As for a new lockdown, Kostrikis said: “If there will be a lockdown, I do not believe in the same lockdown philosophy that we had in March and April. It will be a very different adjustment because for many different reasons our country cannot withstand a new lockdown. We do not need to put people in a lockdown to implement a lockdown policy.”

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