Cyprus entered a second lockdown on January 10 after having witnessed a surge in new Covid – 19 cases and an increased number of deaths. Replying to the question as to whether the second lockdown will have the same results the first one had Petros Karayiannis, member of the advisory scientific committee to the Minister of Health, Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, told CNA that results will become evident during the third week of the lockdown and pointed out that relaxation of the strict measures can begin in February provided that the epidemiological situation would allow it.
“We are hoping that, by the end of the month, we will have around 100 cases per day,” he said.
Dr. Karayiannis noted that during the last three days a slight downward trend is evident adding that this can be seen by the positivity rate of the tests carried out each day. The rate is fluctuating slightly above 3% which is considered to be the highest security level, he said.
Invited to comment on the increased number of hospitalisations, Karayiannis said that this was expected expressing the opinion that a further rise should be expected in the coming days. “This is what we have been warning about,” he said recalling the number of new coronavirus cases announced during Christmas, that on an occasion climbed as high as 900 new cases in one day. Thus, it is expected that there will be rise in the number of inpatients, before any drop, he added.
He noted that on Sunday a record number of 50 patients were receiving treatment in Intensive Care Units.
He also said that more deaths are to be expected, as they concern elderly people, most of them with underlying conditions and underlined that the vaccine could slow down the number of both the hospitalisations and deaths.
Invited to further elaborate on what results are to be expected after the lockdown, Karayiannis expressed hope that the situation will improve, pointing out however that strict lockdowns imposed in other countries seem not to have yielded the results expected. He noted that mass testing of the population should continue and explained that as the vaccination of the population continues hospital admissions will further decrease.
Karayiannis also said that 80% of vaccinations in nursing homes have already taken place. He added that by mid-March, provided vaccinations continue, Cyprus will have a herd immunity of around 20% or 25%, which will curtail transmission of the virus in the community.
The ideal would be to reach a percentage of 60-65% herd immunity, he said, adding that this is something we should not expect before the summer.
However, with more vaccinations and warm weather I think we can see a relaxation of the measures by mid-March, he said not excluding the possibility if the epidemiological picture improves significantly that there will be an easing of measures from February onward.