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Coronavirus: people must obey measures to avoid third wave, says expert

Photo: CNA

Cyprus will face a third wave of coronavirus if people do not abide by health protocols after the relaxation of measures, a member of the ministry’s epidemiological team warned on Friday.

“If we let the virus resurge and we do not pay attention and we view the relaxation of the measures as an opportunity to avoid implementing them – and I am talking about the people – then we may have a problem,” Assistant Professor of Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases at the University of Cyprus Maria Koliou told the Cyprus News Agency.

Daily coronavirus cases took a plunge to two-digit numbers last month, but a few days before the announcement of relaxations by the health ministry for February, cases returned to three-digit levels and have since then increased to around 300. Testing has also increased from an average of around 25,000 per day to sometimes 40,000 to 45,000 per day.  Thursday saw 384 new cases from  36,000 tests. The highest daily tally since the outbreak was 907 Covid-19 cases on December 29.

“An increase was expected to some extent. How much they [cases] will increase in the coming days will show whether this increase will be really worrying or not,” she added.

On March 16, the reopening of restaurants and cafes is expected as well as the return of gymnasium students to school.

Mandatory testing of high school students who returned this week as well as employees, revealed an increase in infections among young people.

Koliou explained that the increased cases were partly due to the Covid-19 variants identified in Cyprus.

“They seem to be more easily transmitted, possibly due to the variants,” she said adding that young people showed more resistance during he first wave.

Until the desired percentage of vaccinations is achieved, we must strive to keep the daily number of coronavirus cases low, Koliou said.

Apart from the UK variant, which is more infectious to young people, Koliou said there was also Β1-258 which is the Cypriot variant of Covid-19 and includes the UK variant on the island.

“The uncontrolled multiplication of the virus in a country where no measures are implemented and surges of the virus occur without being able to control them brings possibilities of variants and the emergence of strains with increased advantages, such as increased transmissibility,” Koliou explained.

The epidemiologist also estimated that more variants will appear, and reiterated the need to speed up the vaccination process.

“We are definitely worried, and all variants are a problem,” she said.

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