Nearly 1.3 million coronavirus tests, both PCR and rapid antigen tests, have been carried out in Cyprus since the start of the pandemic in March, the health ministry said on Friday.

It said that Cyprus has one of the highest testing rates proportionate to the population in Europe, in line with recommendations of the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) to closely monitor the epidemiological situation.

From March 2020 to January 21, a total of 1,287,943 tests were carried out in Cyprus with 29,636 positive coronavirus cases detected. The positivity rate currently stands at 2.3 per cent, having recorded a significant drop the past week, the ministry added.

Of the 1,287,943 million tests, 791,620 were PCR tests. These detected 18,518 positive cases (positivity rate 2.34 per cent). Another 458,270 rapid antigen tests detected 11,118 positive coronavirus cases, a positivity rate of 2.43 per cent.

“Increased lab tests of the population safeguard the other pillars of the strategy to manage to the pandemic, that is the timely detection of positive cases, their isolation and the tracing of their contacts,” the ministry said.

According to the ECDC, high lab supervision of the population combined with a restriction of social contacts reduces transmission of the virus in the community, the ministry concluded.