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Coronavirus: Experts divided over new measures

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Possible new measures to curb the further spread of the coronavirus are to be discussed next week with some experts calling for bringing back teleworking for some or introducing self-tests and others believing that the existing ones are enough if properly followed, it emerged on Wednesday.

The number of daily cases has put the issue of whether new measures would be necessary on the table again, but the health ministry says nothing is certain yet.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas is to hold a meeting with the advisory scientific committee on coronavirus on Monday afternoon.

“The health ministry is monitoring the situation and on Monday suggestions by the experts are expected, in order to decide whether any additional measures will be taken,” Constantinos Athanasiou, the minister’s communication advisor told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA). The experts’ suggestions will be submitted to the cabinet on Wednesday for consideration.

Sources told the CNA that among the measures expected to be suggested is changes to the decrees on gatherings and the possible introduction of self-tests.

Bringing back teleworking, especially for vulnerable groups, or for some workplaces where crowds gather is also a possibility, the same sources said.

Any suggestions will not aim to divide people into vaccinated and unvaccinated, CNA reported.

Some members of the team believe, however, that the existing measures are sufficient if they are properly followed.

Experts agree that the first and foremost measure to tackle any outbreak is vaccination, including the booster shot.

Cabinet approved this week the administration of booster jabs to everyone 18 and over. The health ministry said this would be done gradually. As of Wednesday, eligible for the booster jab are people 40 and over. The booster jab is administered to people who have completed their vaccination regimen at least six months prior to the third dose. Those interested may go to the walk-in centres between Mondays and Thursdays from 8am and 1pm or book an appointment through the vaccination portal.

According to data by the health ministry, 171,121 people received a booster jab so far.

In the meantime, head of the paediatricians’ association and secretary of the medical association, Michalis Anastasiades stressed the importance of vaccination as many people have yet to do it, including teenagers.

“A way must be found to persuade all these people, especially the 12- to 17-year-olds, to get vaccinated,” Anastasiades told state broadcaster CyBC.

“We have not seen an increase in the percentage of vaccinations of children over 12,” he said. Vaccination coverage in this age group does not exceed 45 per cent, he said.

Anastasiadis said that very soon, experts in Cyprus will be called on to make decisions, as in other countries, over the vaccination of children aged five and over.

The number of cases has been gradually rising in recent days. On Tuesday 386 cases were recorded while the number of patients in hospitals rose to 88. On Wednesday 346 new cases were reported. Among those intubated was a 23-year-old man, authorities confirmed.

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