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Our View: Scientific data does not support minister’s alarmism

Υπουργός Υγείας – Συνέντευξη Τύπο
Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou (PIO)

Nobody has done more than health minister Constantinos Ioannou to cultivate a gloomy sentiment and promote project fear. His dour announcements on Covid-19 measures are testament to scaremongering and exaggerating the dangers facing people in order to defend the government’s repressive measures that are not justified by the epidemiological picture.

On Thursday, announcing some limited relaxations of measures he once again focused on scaring people. “In each district, apart from Limassol where the load is greater, the situation, although improved is at a critical point that could easily deteriorate,” he said. There are districts that have less than 10 cases in the last week (Famagusta had zero one day) so how are we at a critical point that could easily deteriorate?

What constitutes a ‘critical point’ for the health minister and his scientific advisors who are on radio and television every day keeping project fear going, by constantly telling us things could take a turn for the worse. On Thursday again, Ioannou informed us that the situation in the hospitals “is manageable, but as we have said, it could veer out of control.” In theory, anything can happen, but why is focusing on the theory rather than the data?

Is it because the data, which he did not mention, do not support the alarmism and plans to introduce coronavirus inspectors? “The number of patients being treated shows a small decrease and our target, with persistence and effort, is for the decrease to continue,” said Ioannou. On February 24, the day before the minister spoke about the “small decrease” there were 81 people in hospital, of whom 25 were in serious condition, according to the University of Cyprus website following the Covid-19 situation.

The bed capacity, without taking into account the extra beds made available at Larnaca hospital, is 200 so less than 40 per cent of hospital capacity is being used. Does that suggest we are on the brink of the situation veering out of control? And to which period was he comparing the current situation, in concluding there was a small decrease in the number of patients at hospital? To the previous week? In mid-January there were a little more than 200 people in hospital, so the decrease in patients since then has been 60 per cent. For the minister, however, a 60 per cent fall is a small decrease.

In fact, the statistic Ioannou cited on Thursday was the one that served project fear. The cumulative effect, nationwide, “continues to be above the safety limit set by the ECDC, that is 164.3 per 100,000 residents, recording a small decrease compared to the previous fortnight,” he said. He did not mention the most important statistic of all. Cyprus has the second lowest covid mortality rate in the EU – 25 per 100,000, something the minister and epidemiologists, avoid referring to as it would undermine project fear.

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