Saying that we must learn to live with the novel coronavirus, Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou on Tuesday voiced concern over an increase in positivity rates of rapid tests and the low vaccination rates amongst the young.

The unvaccinated are being hit harder by the virus than the vaccinated while some people are not following the measures, he said noting that we could be headed for a new outbreak.

“The only way to prevent a new outbreak of the pandemic is to increase the vaccinations…From yesterday’s [rapid test results] the positivity rate doubled and this is worrying,” he said.

Ioannou was speaking on Tuesday at the Famagusta general hospital, which was being used as a Covid hospital, where he thanked the staff for their hard work throughout the pandemic.

During his visit, he was asked about the vaccination campaign which has so far led to 62 per cent of the population receiving their first dose as of June 18.

Cyprus’ vaccination rate is among the highest in the EU, but it lags behind leaders such as the UK. In comparison, Wales has vaccinated 88 per cent of those aged 18 and over (with at least one dose), Scotland 81 per cent and England 80 per cent.

Ioannou noted the low uptake amongst those who remain unvaccinated, despite the portal being open to everyone above the age of 18.

“Of particular concern is the fact that interest in vaccination has waned… while the portal has been open since last Friday, very few people have booked an appointment,” Ioannou said.

Health officials last week urged the younger population to get vaccinated to keep the Delta variant at bay and avoid a new outbreak similar to the one caused by the Alpha variant a few months back.

Some countries are facing serious challenges in convincing their populations to voluntarily take up the vaccine, such as Russia.

By June 2 only 18 million of the nation’s 144 million population had received at least the first dose of a vaccine.

Authorities have since stepped up attempts to coax and compel people to get vaccinated, offering those who do the chance to win new cars and flats, while threatening others who do not with loss of earnings and dismissals.

Meanwhile, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to jail vaccine holdouts.

“You choose, vaccine or I will have you jailed,” Duterte said on Monday.