Health professionals will be offered incentives to help staff overstretched Covid-19 clinics at public hospitals, state health services organisation Okypy said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile non-coronavirus patients in state hospitals will be referred to the private sector as authorities scramble to cope with a surge in coronavirus-related hospital admissions.

The decisions were taken after a meeting between the health minister, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Okypy officials, the president of the Cyprus Medical Association and representatives of health ministry trade unions.

Okypy said those taking part had been informed about the Covid situation, current needs and what may be required in the future.

The spike in the number of positive coronavirus cases has put a strain on public hospitals, with about 30 Covid-19 patients admitted every day, but only 15 discharged. Only weeks after the number of coronavirus patients fell to below 50, it is now above 200 and rising by the day.

The health minister has already ordered a postponement of non-urgent surgeries and put a cap on the number of patients at private hospitals so that they can absorb patients transferred from the public hospitals which are responsible for handling the outbreak. With up to 25 per cent of nurses on holiday in some facilities, the pressure on the health system is even greater.

According to Okypy, a proposal was discussed with the medical association to offer doctors incentives to urgently staff the Covid clinics.

Incentives will also be offered to nursing staff in an effort not to revoke summer leave but retain coverage for shifts.

Because of the increase in admissions and the need to decongest short-treatment wards, Okypy is urging the Health Insurance Organisation to contribute so that personal doctors respond to and properly advise their patients so that they do not immediately head to emergency wards.