Epidemiologist Dr Michalis Voniatis said that it is only a matter of time until Omicron arrives in Cyprus at which point daily infections could surge past 1,000, he said.

He added, however, that if Omicron does not cause much – or as severe – illness then the daily reported infections won’t be as much of a concern as they are currently – during the Delta outbreak.

As for the current situation, he said that he is “slightly worried” but is reassured that the situation is not out of control.

“The situation unfortunately is not improving, it will likely stabilise towards the higher end, and this is slightly worrying because we have increased hospitalisations and loss of life,” he said, adding that: “But on the other hand, things have not got out of control… it’s manageable.”

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency on Wednesday, Voniatis also expressed concern over the lack of data on what the impact of Omicron is or may be.

“In South Africa they have not reported incidents of severe illness where people are intubated and dying, but let’s not forget that the population of South Africa is typically much younger compared to Europe, so we still don’t have enough data to prove that this variant will not cause severe illness,” he said.

To be sure, many African nations have a much lower average age, such as Nigeria’s 18.1, Botswana’s 24.0, and South Africa’s 27.6. That’s in marked contrast to Cyprus’ 37.3, Greece’s 45.6 and Italy’s 45.9.
Voniatis said another concern is how often the variant may cause people to fall ill because if as it is said, it is more transmissible then a greater number of the population may be susceptible.

Asked about further restrictions in the build up and during the Christmas period, Voniatis offered a pessimistic forecast: “If things remain as they are, then we won’t need further measures, but if there’s a surge in infections – caused by Delta and not Omicron – which I fear will happen, then we may need further restrictions.”