Experts on Wednesday expressed concern as hospitals remain at high occupancy rates with many patients being admitted for respiratory illnesses.

Admissions are rising in the pulmonology, pathology, and paediatric wards – with a similar trend seen at A&E departments, spokesman for state health services organisation (Okypy) Charalambos Charilaou said.

Experts acknowledged that December is typically the month with the highest caseload of such illnesses, but are concerned at the combination, severity and spread of those seen this month.

“It’s not just that the beds are full but there are very challenging cases, too – patients with pneumonias which require surgery – it’s a very difficult situation,” assistant professor of paediatrics and infectious diseases at the University of Cyprus Maria Koliou told Alpha.

Asked why the situation has deteriorated to such an extent, Koliou said it may be knock-on effects from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We’re in the moment after the pandemic, although it is still ongoing, we’ve been seeing this immediately after the lockdowns ended: complicated pneumonias in children where liquid was gathering – some children needed two or three surgeries.

“We were expecting this situation to calm down but unfortunately it’s still continuing,” she said, singling out pneumococcus as causing major problems.

Koliou said that there are vaccines available for it which children are taking but that it is an “exceptionally clever” bacterium which escapes the protection offered.

Meanwhile the four-year-old girl being treated for strep A at Makarios hospital remains intubated and in a serious condition.

Doctors on Tuesday said she was too ill to be transferred to Israel after a doctor from there came the previous day to assess her condition.

Koliou said that it’s possible Israel may have a piece of equipment not available in Cyprus.

“We have excellent units and professionals here… but perhaps they have a machine which we don’t have in our units as perhaps we only have one such case every six years,” she said.

Meanwhile head of the Paediatric Society Michalis Anastasiades called on parents to make themselves aware of the symptoms of strep A, adding that it is not the first time it has been seen in Cyprus.