The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital being treated specifically for the virus is up to 50 per cent lower than that which is announced daily by the health ministry.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Thursday that up to 30-50 per cent of those listed as Covid-19 patients in hospital are being treated for reasons other than the virus itself.

Earlier in the day, government advisor on the pandemic Maria Koliou spoke to Alpha and said that: “The number of people hospitalised, a figure which we considered to be high, the 200 plus in hospital, are not all receiving treatment for Covid-19, they are people in hospital with Covid-19.”

She spoke on the issue ahead of the relaxations, explaining why Cyprus is now able to loosen the restrictions.

“What that means is that people are going to hospital for other reasons, for example a fracture, and it turns out that they also happen to have Covid-19, but it’s not Covid-19 that is causing their visit to the hospital for treatment,” Koliou explained.

The health ministry’s daily Covid-19 announcement on Wednesday stated that there were “202 Covid-19 patients receiving treatment”.

Previous rounds of restrictions and lockdowns were often justified, in part, by citing the number of total Covid-19 hospitalisations.

Another complicating factor is the policy and procedure surrounding patients who test positive at private clinics and hospitals, who are then sent to public hospitals, despite the fact they do not require treatment for Covid-19.

Hadjipantelas said that from Friday, private hospitals and clinics will be asked to care for those who test positive for Covid-19 amid routine checks but sought treatment for other ailments.

“So the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is not the true figure, it is lower than that,” said Koliou, assistant professor of paediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of Cyprus Medical School.

She also said that the number of people who are intubated are at “record lows” comparative to the number of people testing positive, factors which are being seen across the globe, such as in the US and UK.

“This allows us to relax a bit, and specifically to reduce the high number of tests,” she said.