Cyprus Mail

Omicron may put pressure on healthcare system but situation better than last year

file photo: illustration shows a test tube labelled "covid 19 test positive" in front of displayed words "omicron sars cov 2"
FILE PHOTO: A test tube labelled "COVID-19 Test Positive" is seen in front of displayed words "OMICRON SARS-COV-2" in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The healthcare system is still likely to be affected by the latest coronavirus surge, which is expected to peak in the second or third week of January, government advisor Maria Koliou said on Friday amid a dramatic surge which saw daily cases soaring over 5,000.

Koliou speculated that the Omicron variant’s high transmission rates combined with the Delta variant could eventually begin to put pressure on the healthcare system but added that we won’t start seeing the effects until at least next week.

“We know that there is always a latent time from the moment cases increase in the community to an increase in hospital admissions, therefore we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next few days”.

She also said that the coronavirus advisory team estimates the current wave of the pandemic will peak sometime in the following two weeks.

Koliou also noted the effect of vaccines on the overall picture, saying that we are currently in a very different position than this time last year.

She repeated calls for those eligible to get their booster shots, as “it is clear that the third dose protects us effectively from serious illness, and so does a second dose, provided six months haven’t yet passed”.

Citing the UK as an example, she said that despite high case numbers, the healthcare system did not seem as affected and no substantial rise in hospital admissions was noted.

“Their secret, apart from the fact that the variant is milder, is their very high vaccination rate,” she said. “In Cyprus we have an impressive coverage, which must spread further”.

As regards the new variant from Cameroon identified in France, Koliou said scientists monitoring the variant since November were confident it was not a cause for alarm, as it appears to be much less transmissible than Omicron.

“We shouldn’t worry for now,” she said. “Nevertheless, this virus constantly surprises us, so we can never be absolutely certain”.

Lastly, Koliou said Cyprus has yet to record any cases of the flu which usually appears between late December and early January.

“Other countries are seeing a combination of Covid and the influenza virus (dubbed ‘flurona’), something we would rather avoid. The two viruses should not coexist”.

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