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Coronavirus: Further relaxations in next 10 days if hospitalisations remain stable  

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The minister said he will wait to hear the views of the scientific team before taking any final decisions

There will be more relaxations to Covid-19 measures in the next 10 days, provided hospital admissions remain stable, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Friday.

Speaking to reporters in Paphos after the March 25 student parade, the minister noted the surge in the number of infections but said that authorities were currently focused on the number of hospital admissions, the Cyprus News Agency quoted him as saying.

If hospitalisations remain stable – on Thursday, there were 151 Covid-19 patients in state hospitals of whom seven were intubated – more relaxations will be introduced. He did not elaborate.

There was speculation earlier this week that cabinet would follow other countries in easing Covid-19 restrictions. But authorities opted for a wait-and-see approach amid a persistently high number of new infections of between 4,000 and 5,000 a day and a positivity rate close to 5 per cent.

Health ministry spokesman Constantinos Athanasiou said after Monday’s meeting of the scientific advisory team that the possibility of further relaxations will be reviewed in two weeks.

On Thursday, Cyprus recorded 5,186 new infections, but no deaths. Experts have attributed the latest spike to the more infectious Omicron 2 strain, the cold weather which restricts people inside and a general fatigue among the population, two years after restrictions were first imposed.

Health authorities are keeping a close tab on hospital admissions, and especially the number of serious cases and intubations. They note that even though the hospitalisation rate may be lower with the Omicron 2, the big surge could spell pressure on the health system down the road.

Against this background, Hadjipantelas was asked whether the SafePass, which is no longer needed in a number of outlets including bakeries and supermarkets, will be scrapped for other venues.

The minister responded that he would wait to hear the views of the scientific advisors before announcing any relaxations.

As to the fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine, Hadjipantelas said it has been approved by cabinet for some population groups and that an announcement will be issued by Monday regarding the practicalities, so that the programme can get underway in the next few days.

Initially, it will be made available to people aged over 70 provided five months has passed since the third dose, as well as to people with medical conditions, he added.

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