Public hospitals are fully prepared to handle a possible second coronavirus wave, spokesman of state health services organisation Okypy Charalambos Charilaou said on Tuesday after complaints by nurses’ union Pasyno of the opposite.
In response to complaints of the “desperate state of understaffing” at state hospitals, Charilaou said this wasn’t so.
“Public hospitals are fully prepared for a second wave of coronavirus,” he told state broadcaster CyBC.
He said it was “with surprise and dismay” that he heard such statements during this critical period.
“A thorough planning has been carried out which has also been presented to the health minister,” Charilaou said. He added that as regards staff needs at the Famagusta hospital that also operates as the coronavirus reference hospital, people have been sent there from Larnaca.
He also said Okypy was in the process of hiring more nurses.
According to Charilaou public hospitals are currently at under 60 per cent of their capacity and that existing staff more than covered the needs.
Pasyno said on Monday and Tuesday that state hospitals were not ready for a possible second wave citing serious understaffing.
The union accused Okypy of breaking its promises as regards an agreement between them to have hired 160 nurses by June and another 100 by February 2021.
“We are in the third week of October, the second pandemic wave is on its way, but no hires were made,” the union said.
Pasyno also said that a large number of nurses have not taken their holiday entitlement yet.
Charilaou said “everyone has taken their annual leave.”
The health ministry has raised concerns recently over the rapidly rising number of people with Covid-19 in need of hospital treatment, warning members of the public of the need to strictly adhere to the measures in place.
The government announced an additional set of measures last Saturday to curb the upward trend in cases recorded in recent weeks, among them giving priority to people over 60 in shops and pharmacies, sports events without spectators and a ban on private gatherings of over 10 people.
Epidemiology experts are also recommending reducing to the minimum possible contact among people working in offices and encouraging remote work, citing data stating that among 970 cases that concern employed people who tested positive until October 5, 32 per cent are people working in offices.
During a seminar to representatives of employer organisations and trade unions last week, member of the advisory committee on coronavirus Dr Constantinos Tsioutis recommended that remote work cover 30 per cent of staff in offices, separate staff doing shifts in groups, avoid group lunch breaks, reduce non-essential trips, and restrict the number and duration of stay of visitors at the office space.