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Cyprus Scrambles Health Advisor Panel Over COVID-19 Resurgence

NICOSIA – After easing health measures to lure tourists during the COVID-19 pandemic, a rise in cases has pushed the Cypriot government to reconvene an advisory panel of health experts on how to deal with cases rising.

It came at the request of Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas, said The Cyprus Mail, as there’s worry about the number of hospitalizations that could see a requirement for wearing masks being returned.

The Health Ministry’s latest report on the Coronavirus saw 7,263 cases on June 24, and the positivity rate rising 9.7 percent, with spokesman  Konstantinos Athanasiou telling Alpha TV that Hadjipantelas wants a briefing on the epidemiological data.

“This time last year (when the Delta variant became the dominant strain,)” we were going through the worst period in terms of increases in both the infection and hospitalization rates,” he said, adding that the ministry’s goal is “not to allow us to take any backward steps in that direction”.

State health services organisation Okypy spokesman Charalambos Charilaou said that hospitalizations due to the virus more than doubled in the span of two weeks, the paper reported.

“On June 11 there were 24 coronavirus patients in hospitals, but as of today there are 52 in treatment, of whom three are in the high dependency unit and one in the ICU,” he said.

Epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis said there’s no reason to be overly worried because of the high rate of vaccination – which is no guarantee against being infected – nor is having contracted the virus.

“Yes, we have an increase in hospitalizations but we don’t have too many serious cases, which is reassuring in a way,” he said, unless you’re one of those who has a critical case.

More than 500,000 people have been infected, some 700,000 received three doses of the vaccine, and many in vulnerable groups are getting their fourth, Voniatis added about the reason for optimism.

“This will protect us, in combination with employing common sense and personal responsibility,” like continuing to wear masks in crowded areas.

He said he didn’t think it was necessary to bring masks back again as they have been set aside as people are acting as if there is no pandemic.

“I don’t believe demanding it by law can change anything; we can have recommendations, and I believe that those with common sense will rally,” he told the paper.

“What we are asking is for the public to maintain personal protection measures,” Athanasiou said. “We are not mandating masks or social distancing, but we are urging people to make their own judgements on whether the situation they find themselves in calls for them to use these measures.”

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