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Coronavirus: No Omicron cases hospitalised so far, minister says

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Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas at the Famagusta hospital on Sunday (CNA)

No cases of the Covid Omicron variant found so far in Cyprus have needed hospitalisation, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Sunday during a visit to the Famagusta reference hospital.

The minster said that whether or not there would be further measures ahead of New year, would depend entirely on the epidemiological picture over the next two or three days.

He said that if it emerges that both positivity  and hospitalisations are high, a meeting would be held with the scientific team to see if further action would be taken. What was highly unlikely was that there would be any relaxations.

“Most likely, if there are any thoughts regarding the measures, they will be towards their tightening rather than towards their relaxation,” he said.

The visit to the hospital on Sunday was to both assess the situation and to thank the staff. Hadjipantelas is expected to visit the Nicosia hospital on Sunday evening.

Speaking to the media, he said whether 2022 would be a better year “depends on us’ and whether “we decide to be vaccinated and follow the measures”.

The Famagusta hospital did not appear to be under any undue pressure at the moment, he said and a significant reduction in hospitalisations was recorded on Saturday. The reference facility currently has 30 patients with six of those in ICU. The youngest patient is 25 while the oldest is 90 years old. The ministry said 24 of the patients are unvaccinated.

Asked about the increase in the positivity rate on Saturday despite the small number of samples tested, he acknowledged that the rate had increased “but we must not forget that a large percentage of yesterday’s cases were from our airports”.

“We will see the results of the cases in the next two to three days and then we will decide,” he added.
The minister said there was a plan in place if needed for the hospitals with room to transfer other patients to private facilities. “At the moment, there are several beds that, if necessary, we will use for the coronavirus patients,” he added.

Regarding Omicron – of which there are around 60+ cases so far in Cyprus – the minister said ‘that so far he has no information about the existence of any patient with Omicron, but people being admitted are being screened for the variant.

“If there is no hospitalisation with Omicron, then it is good news,” he said. “This is an issue that we monitor daily.”

Most Omicron cases, he added, have a travel history from either Greece or the UK, mostly young people. Carrying out a PCR test on all arrivals was the right move, he said.

Regarding the availability of specific vaccines, Hadjipantelas said that from Monday, another 30,000 Pfizer vaccines will become available for people making appointments through the portal.

“And I tell people, those who want to be vaccinated with Pfizer, go to the vaccination portal and make an appointment and at the same time the walk-in centres will be working normally after two days,” he said.

Walk-ins will only be open to students Monday and Tuesday this coming week.

The boost jabs for kids, the ministry has a plan while the children are on Christmas break to, set aside January 3 and 4, just for them so they can go with their parents.

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