The warnings regarding Covid have been stepped up after the big number of infections reported on Wednesday, even though half of them were linked to two Larnaca area football clubs, which clearly ignored safety protocols. There were five clusters in Larnaca, accounting for some 60 cases in the last few days and more restrictive measures have been imposed, as had happened with Limassol several weeks ago.
The surge of cases has been seized by the health ministry and epidemiologists to issue warnings about complying with the health protocols and to engage in some mild scaremongering about what lay ahead. Member of the scientific advisory team, professor Leondios Kostrikis, speaking on a television station, said that “the infection will now show its teeth because we are entering the winter months, people will be in closed spaces and contagiousness will rise steeply.”
Considering this is Cyprus we are talking about, there is still some time to go before we enter the winter months, but Kostrikis had a point. Conditions will change and risks will increase as people spend more time closed indoors, but this is to be expected. There is always a surge in flu infections in winter, only now we have a new type of flu that is highly contagious and could stretch healthcare resources if there is a big surge in infections.
The only thing we can do is adhere to health protocols while every individual will have to play their part, regularly washing their hands, engaging in social distancing and wearing their face mask wherever this is mandatory. Members of vulnerable groups and the elderly should probably avoid too many visits to public places, especially during peak hours, and perhaps restrict their social contacts. At the same time, cafes, restaurants, offices should carry out all the necessary safety measures to protect people, something the Larnaca football clubs had obviously failed to do.
This was a lesson in what could happen when protocols and safety measures are not adhered to and the health minister, Constantinos Ioannou was right to make the point. This is all the authorities can do – keep repeating the message about the need to adhere to protocols – given that another lockdown, quite rightly, is not an option. There have been big spikes in infections in most countries in the last couple of weeks – much worse than what is being experienced in Cyprus – but no lockdowns and have been imposed.
Despite constant warnings by politicians and epidemiologists about people not complying with the protocols, Cyprus has done very well in dealing with the coronavirus, as the data shows, and this is because people, by and large, have been following the rules. Admittedly, we need to be shaken out of our complacency every so often and be reminded that the pandemic is not over, but this does not have to be through constant scaremongering.