Eighty per cent of Covid cases are currently thought to be of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Sunday, adding that this is likely to rise to 100 per cent in the coming days.

Speaking after a visit to Limassol general hospital, he said however it has not so far been identified among people in hospital.

During his visit to the Limassol hospital the minister visited the Covid ward.

“We know very well the positivity rate of Omicron and we consider that in the coming days it will prevail in all our cases,” he said.

In the coming week, he added, a large sample will be taken among Covid patients in hospital to see how many of them are suffering from the Omicron variant.

In common with experts earlier in the day, he said he expects the number of cases to rise in the coming days but once it has peaked also for the number to fall quickly.

Rapidly rising cases, he said, is a “global phenomenon and unfortunately Cyprus cannot be an exception”.

Called to comment on Omicron being a less severe variant, he said that so far the data point to this but “there can be no complacency, not in the world and not from us.

“People must get vaccinated and the only weapon that we have and the only thing we have learned recently is that if you are vaccinated you are not in danger of going into an intensive care unit and that is clear”.

He added that if you are vaccinated you will get infected with the virus but won’t end up in hospital, “and that is something we must all understand and all be aware of”.

How people’s movements will be restricted or the reopening of schools affected by the rising cases will be discussed on Tuesday with the government advisory team, he said.

“I will wait to hear from them and if the epidemiologists insist that the schools remain closed then that is something that will certainly be discussed at the Council of Ministers,” he said.

Asked how the hospital were coping he said the increased pressure on intensive care units is a problem that was identified early on and will be addressed on Monday at a meeting at Larnaca general hospital on Monday, where the provision of more beds is expected to be addressed.

He said this shortage of beds affects non Covid patients, while the aim is to increase the number, a plan for which already exists.