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Coronavirus: One in four had increased stress during lockdown

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Empty streets and closed shops during the lockdown

One in four adults in Cyprus experienced medium to high levels of stress during the lockdown, which is much higher than the usual one to four per cent, according to the findings of a study presented on Tuesday during the 6th annual conference on public health.

The conference, this year held online, was on coronavirus and public health. It was organised by the Cyprus University of Technology and the Cyprus International Institute for Environmental and Public Health (CII).

Several experts from Cyprus and abroad presented their findings from a series of studies about coronavirus.

According to Senior Expert Emergency Preparedness and Response, at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) Dr Agoritsa Baka a second coronavirus wave seems to be taking place in Europe, especially in Spain, southern France and some central European countries with around 120 cases per 100,000 people.

The good news, she said, is that this is not on a par with the corresponding increase in deaths possibly due to better treatment protocols and incident handling in healthcare facilities and also to more tests (PCR).

Therefore, she said, in Cyprus there has been consistently very low percentage of positive controls, less than a 1 per cent positivity rate.

She added that most cases now concern younger people, between 20 and 40 years.

Citing ECDC data, she said the risk of death from coronavirus for people aged 20 is one in 20,000, for 40-year-olds is one in 1,400 and for 70-year-olds it is one in 40.

Among the studies presented was also on the psychological impact of the pandemic on Cypriots.

One in four adults in Cyprus, around 23 per cent, experienced medium to high levels of stress during the lockdown, according to a study presented by Dr Fofi Constantinidou, Professor at the University of Cyprus’ Department of Psychology.

She added that 67 per cent of respondents said their quality of life changed a lot during the lockdown.

Neuropsychiatric disorders, she said, constitute 25 per cent of the burden on the health system of Cyprus and she recommended that the communication tactics for the pandemic are based on Cypriots’ culture.

Associate Professor at the CII Konstantinos Makris analysed two studies on the effect of the pandemic restriction measures on the quality of life and lifestyle of the Cypriot population. One took place during the lockdown for adults (around 600 people participated) and the other study during the school reopening period between May 21 and end of June. Around 1,500 children from 180 schools were screened.

As regards children, changes in their lifestyle profile and habits after the lockdown were identified, such as increased sugar intake, increased screen time, and reduced physical activity, compared to their habits before the lockdown. For adults, there were differences in social interactions and transient stress levels between men and women.

Another expert, Dr Georgios Nikolopoulos from the Cyprus University’s medical school, said “excellent work” was done in the field of epidemiological surveillance in Cyprus.

He pointed out that daily testing, to the tune of 2,000 to 3,000 tests per day, puts Cyprus among the countries with the highest percentages worldwide.

Nikolopoulos said that at the present stage, mortality is low, about 3.2 per 100,000 for Greece and Cyprus. He said that according to ECDC calculations, no increase in morbidity or increase in cases requiring intensive treatment is expected until mid-October.



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