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Coronavirus: health ministry urges people to social distance, gatherings linked to new cases (Updated)

The health ministry urged people on Thursday to apply social distancing and other measures after it was determined that many recent Covid infections occurred during social gatherings involving younger ages who were asymptomatic.

In a written statement, the ministry said there was deep concern over the rise in cases among younger ages, up to 45, who attended parties or other similar social gatherings.

A characteristic example were four cases who attended two parties and came in contact with over 40 people, the ministry said.

Eight other people were infected at another party. Most of the new cases were asymptomatic.

There was also the case of an individual who came into contact with 65 people before finding out she had the coronavirus.

Those clusters together with smaller transmission chains among young people, show that “the risk of transmission of the virus is high and it can easily spread to older people or people who belong to vulnerable groups,” the ministry said.

At the same time, police were trying to determine whether any offences had been committed by a woman who broke quarantine in Larnaca and apparently started a Covid cluster of at least 30 people.

The woman had returned from the USA and after testing negative, she had to self-quarantine for two weeks to make sure she did not have the virus.

Officers were reportedly taking statements from people with whom she had come into contact but have not contracted the virus.

They are trying to determine whether they knew she had recently returned from abroad and was meant to be in quarantine.

She is one of several known cases who broke quarantine and later turned out to be positive, spreading the virus in the process.

There have been numerous cases of people who arrived from so-called category C countries – which requires two weeks in quarantine – who tested negative upon arrival but were later found positive.

This forced health authorities to issue a decree mandating a second test 48 hours before the quarantine expired.

It appealed to the public to be extra careful, especially during the holidays in the next few days, and urged people with symptoms like cough, runny nose, fever, difficulty breathing, or no sense of smell or taste, to contact their GP.

“We are in a marathon and the finish line is still far,” the ministry said. “Individual protection measures and social distancing constitute the only protective shield we have for the time being in the difficult battle against the invisible enemy.”


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