The spread of Covid-19 in care homes is alarming, both the state health services organisation Okypy and members of the government’s scientific team said on Friday.
Approximately 25 per cent of the patients treated in Famagusta reference hospital for coronavirus are elderly residents of care homes, Okypy said.
“There is a rapid spread of the virus in these homes and we are very concerned,” Okypy’s spokepersons Charalambos Charilaou told the Cyprus News Agency.
“That’s why Okypy, although it is not within its responsibilities, has immediately sent a medical team with nurses to clinically examine those patients, assess the situation and give instructions to separate the positive cases,” Charilaou said.
Earlier this month, Sokratio care home in Episkopi, Limassol recorded more than 35 coronavirus cases and four residents have since died with coronavirus.
Timotheo, another nursing home in Latsia, Nicosia has recorded ten coronavirus cases. Three of those patients were expected to be moved to Eden rehabilitation centre in Tersefanou on Thursday.
“The owner refused to hand them over, saying that all positive cases must leave,” Charilaou said.
The owner of Timotheo care home reportedly initially told the relatives of the positive cases on Friday to come and pick them up, adding that the home simply does not have the staff to assist Covid-19 patients.
Okypy, meanwhile, said it is not the responsibility of state hospitals to take care of elderly coronavirus patients who do not require hospitalisation.
“Hospital wards for Covid are intended for those who need them, that is, they have symptoms that need medical treatment and inpatient care,” Charilaou said.
But later on Friday, the health ministry gave instructions that seven of the elderly patients were to be moved to Limassol general hospital, while the three, who can assist themselves, will be moved to Eden.
Elderly residents who tested negative but need to self-isolate will be moved to other care homes.
Media reports said Timotheo will temporarily close, as it is currently only operating with two staff members.
The relatives of the residents expressed concern as many do not have the capacity to take care of their elderly loved ones.
A nursing home in Kyperounta has recorded 33 coronavirus cases to date, one of whom is being treated at the Famagusta referral hospital.
The cases were close contacts of one employer at the centre who tested positive on November 15, the spokesperson of the health ministry Margarita Kyriacou said on Friday during a news conference by members of the scientific team.
The positive case emerged following 500 negative coronavirus tests on residents, including workers at the centre, on October 29.
“The infection shows the protocols and procedures were not followed to the letter. This indicates that some people may have not yet realised that in the specific places they work, there are people at high risk of serious illness, who might need to be hospitalised which will burden the health system,” Kyriacou said.
“All these workers must realise that they have in their hands the lives of somebody’s loved ones, their parents or grandparents,” she added.
Coronavirus cases have also been recorded in day care centres for the elderly.
Reports said that a worker at Theotokos foundation in Limassol, a day care centre that assists elderly patients and people with disabilities, tested positive for coronavirus on Friday.
To prevent the spread of the virus in care homes, the health ministry issued a decree banning all visitations and saying it will provide rapid tests for the weekly testing of workers of those establishments.
“But if those people do not behave responsibly between the interval of one test to another, then it will be very easy to get infected, transmit the virus in these areas and infect other people who belong in vulnerable groups,” Kyriacou added.
Members of the epidemiological team said the transmission of the virus in care homes and other closed structures such as prisons and refugee reception centres was serious and a priority for the ministry.