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Balance again on a tightrope – Battle with time for vaccinations

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Balance again on a tightrope - Battle with time for vaccinations

The lifting of the measures must be done slowly, carefully and in a controlled manner, the Minister of Health stressed in yesterday's press conference, during which he announced the new relaxations that will be implemented in March. He explained the logic of the lifting of the measures, arguing that due to the situation with Limassol, but also the mutations, it is considered imperative to continue the gradual lifting of restrictions, in an effort to credit time for greater vaccination coverage of the population.

What is changing

Therefore, from next Monday, March 1st, the following will take effect:

Reopening of the first and second grade of public and private high schools and technical schools, with physical presence of students.

Reopening of conservatories, tuition centers, training centers and other afternoon activities, with physical presence of up to two people, including the teacher (1 student and 1 teacher).

Reopening of visual arts spaces and galleries, according to the guidelines and the health protocol of the Ministry of Health.

Reopening of gyms, dance schools and other indoor sports facilities, including swimming pools, based on the instructions and protocol to be issued by the Cyprus Sports Organization.

Visits to nursing homes are allowed, under the conditions set out in a protocol of the Ministry of Labor.

Team training and competitions of all team sports of Category C are allowed, under the conditions that apply to the team championships of Category A and B, and in accordance with the protocols of KOP and KOA.

Access to nature trails for sports purposes is allowed.

Street vending and flea markets other than food are allowed. {Bullet}

As for the return of high school students, it will take place on March 8, and the reopening of the dining areas on the basis of a special protocol will take place on March 16, 2021.

At a border point

In addition to the number of cases, the rate of positivity and the cumulative effect, the situation in the hospitals and the deaths were taken into account, based on which the number of cases stabilized in the previous 14 days, with a small increase recorded in the last two days. The percentage of positivity is close to 0.5% with small fluctuations, however it remains below 1%, where it is desired. The cumulative impact across Cyprus is still above the safe limit set by the ECDC, ie at 164.3 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, recording a slight decrease compared to the previous fortnight. Individually, in all provinces, except Limassol where the burden is greater, the situation, although improved, remains at a critical point, so it is easy to deteriorate. The situation in the hospitals may be manageable, but the goal of the Ministry of Health is to continue the reduction of patients in the next period of time and not to return to the images of last January.

Our only weapon

Regarding the issue of vaccinations, Mr. Ioannou argued that everything goes according to plan, with the vaccine being our only weapon to get out of the health crisis as soon as possible. March is considered a critical month, as we expect to receive more than 160,000 doses of vaccine, which translates into vaccination coverage for vulnerable groups along with vaccination by age group. According to the vaccination plan, by the end of April the vaccination will increase to about 300-350,000, and it is expected that by mid-June up to 500-550,000 people will have been vaccinated, ie 70% coverage and immunity. At the same time, Mr. Ioannou stressed that at the moment we have no choice but to abide by the measures, as the delay in vaccination of populations in all countries gives rise to virus mutations to appear, with consequent increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

British mutation

According to Mr. Ioannou, the strategy of gradual lifting of restrictive measures is based on the triptych “test – tracking – vaccinations”. The new strains of the virus cause increased transmission and aggressive spread of the virus, which contributes to an increase in cases, with the Ministry of Health taking into account the ECDC recommendations for increased diagnostic tests in the population, tracking and accelerating vaccination coverage. Regarding the samples sent by the Ministry of Health to the ECDC a few weeks ago, in order to determine if there are mutations of the virus among the positive cases found in the community, the Ministry of Health received results for 83 of the 280 samples. In 28 of the 83 positive samples, the British mutation was detected, while responses are expected within the next few days for the remaining samples. At present, apart from the British mutation, no other has been identified in Cyprus, with the 28 specimens being added to the 23 identified at the beginning of January.

New increase of cases

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced 199 new cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 33,909. 82 patients with Covid-19 disease are being treated in OKYPY hospitals, 19 of which are in serious condition. Of the 19 patients who are critical, 10 are intubated, three are admitted to an intravenous intensive care unit and 6 to an intensive care unit. Yesterday's incidents came after 28,461 laboratory diagnoses were made. Of the 199, 64 came from the tracking process and another 100 from rapid tests. Of the 100 detected through rapid tests, 62 are related to the province of Limassol, 20 to Nicosia and 12 to Larnaca.

Appeal to the people of Limassol

In addition to the mutations, the main concern of the Ministry of Health is the epidemiological burden of Limassol, which alters the epidemiological picture of the country. Regarding the burden that exists in the province of Limassol, Mr. Ioannou stressed that the situation in the province worries the government, however, at the moment there is no question of taking additional measures. What has been decided, however, is to increase checks and sampling stations, with the minister urging citizens to come to the stations en masse so that possible outbreaks of the virus can be identified in a timely manner.

600 mm rapid tests

A key pillar for the success of relaxation is the proper monitoring of the implementation of health protocols. Therefore, the Council of Ministers decided to purchase services from 260 people, based on the procedures established by the Ministry of Commerce, with the aim of supervising the implementation of the measures and not the imposition of fines. At the same time, the control program continues for the general population and employees, thus ensuring the safe operation of businesses. In the first three weeks of February, more than 600,000 rapid tests were conducted, which provided data on the image that prevails in the community in real time.

Source: politis.com.cy

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