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Kostrikis: peak of new positive cases not yet reached

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

Ahead of a meeting on Monday between the health minister and the scientific team to evaluate the past week’s triple digit Covid stats, lead scientist, Leontdios Kostrikis said in an interview on Sunday that the peak of the current outbreak of people testing positive has not yet been reached.

Speaking to Phileleftheros, Kostrikis, head of the biotechnology and molecular virology lab at the University of Cyprus, said it was still too early to judge the outcome of the most recent strict measures – a wider mask mandate and local curfews in Limassol and Paphos. He said these would be evaluated in the coming days.

There is a possibility the restrictions and curfew will be extended islandwide but the government is loathe to use the word ‘lockdown’ given its implications for the economy.

“Everyone agrees that we must take measures to prevent the spread of the virus. From there, the discussion is what kind of measures we will take. The most drastic measure is obviously the lockdown. But it is not legitimate to make such a decision at the moment, and we are trying to avoid it,” he said.

“Choosing a lockdown is not a long-term solution. Also, if there is no vaccine, this means that we should close up in our houses at least until the beginning of the year, when there may be a vaccine available?

Obviously this is not a good choice either. The measure of using the mask everywhere, which we all agree is not an easy or pleasant measure, sends the message that there is a danger outside and that we are not in normalcy,” he added.

Asked about masks, he said it was scientifically proven that masks helped reduce the spread of the virus, even though no one was mandated to wear them during the outbreak of the pandemic through to August.

Kostrikis called it a “sensible and workable strategy for limiting transmission”.

“Also, as I mentioned before, it works as a form of indirect reminder of the danger to which we are constantly exposed,” he added.

He does not agree with other scientists that the masks do not make a significant difference, saying it is contrary to the scientific literature. Many countries have mandated masks since July and the number of people testing positive has skyrocketed all over Europe, the UK and US.

Kostrikis said what worries him most is the increasing number of people in Cyprus who do not believe that this infection actually exists or do not fully understand the serious effects that has on both themselves and their fellow human beings.

“All of us must pay attention to the implementation and compliance of restrictive measures, including the use of the mask everywhere,” he said.

 

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