Cyprus Mail

Coronavirus: Minister upbeat, but says relaxations depend on advisors (Updated)

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The health minister Michalis Hadjipantelas

Any relaxations of the Covid-19 restrictions will depend on the suggestions of the advisory team, the health minister said on Thursday morning as he struck a positive tone.

“The possible relaxation of the restrictions will depend on the [suggestions] of the advisory team,” minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said, but he added that hospitalisations have stabilised and are expected to fall further in the coming days.

For their part, however, those members of the advisory team who have made comments publicly have exerted extreme caution in relaxing the measures, within the context of many European countries scrapping all legal restrictions for Covid-19.

Notably, many Democrat governors in the US have also proceeded to end Covid-19 mandates such as masking indoors. New York governor Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday that her state would stop requiring people to wear a mask or prove they had received a Covid-19 vaccine when entering most indoor public places.

Their Republican counterparts either never had such mandates or scrapped them far earlier.

Asked whether relaxations will be introduced, Hadjipantelas told the Cyprus News Agency that on Tuesday he will meet with the advisory team and that nothing is certain yet, but that a lot can change until then.

“Certainly, there will be suggestions for relaxations by the advisors,” he said, sounding upbeat and stating that Cyprus is in a good situation.

“We’re doing very well… yesterday hospitalisations fell below 200 and we’re waiting to see what happens in the following days and will decide accordingly,” Hadjipantelas said.

But as for the Republic’s advisory team, recent public comments by some of the members have raised doubts over the more mild nature of Omicron, compared to Delta, which is now widely accepted.

Last week, epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis said that perhaps Omicron may cause more severe illness than initially calculated.

Indeed, on Monday four deaths attributed to Covid-19 were announced, followed by seven on Tuesday and five on Wednesday.

Back in November, Voniatis said that Omicron’s “possible mildness could end the pandemic”.


And speaking to the Cyprus Mail last week, advisor Petros Karayiannis said that countries opening up are taking “risky” decisions but acknowledged that the easing of restrictions will happen, at some point.

But on Thursday morning Karayiannis also appeared more upbeat, although it was clear that the relaxations which may be floated are highly unlikely to be along the lines of those seen elsewhere.

Asked by Sigmalive whether small relaxations could be on the cards, Karayiannis said that is the current thinking, despite the increased deaths.

“Life must carry on, we have to learn to live with the virus as we have repeatedly said in the past and we must find ways of doing this,” he said.

“We can’t force people to get the vaccine, the choice is theirs, but the rest of the population cannot be restricted indefinitely, so we can proceed in stages with relaxations,” Karayiannis added.

Asked about Europe, where Sweden declared the pandemic ‘as we know it’ to be over, will no longer carry out mass-testing and Britain pressed forward with ending quarantines, Karayiannis said that the policies could lead to new variants arising.

Last week, he told the Cyprus Mail that people “in intensive care are with Delta, but for the hospitals overall it’s about half and half at the moment”.

Karayiannis noted that as recently as last week ICUs were 90 Delta dominated although 75 per cent of those receiving treatment there were unvaccinated. By Thursday 62.33 per cent of those in hospital with the virus were unvaccinated.







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