Cyprus authorities on alert for Omicron variant

Cyprus authorities are on alert for the new COVID-19 Omicron variant and assure the public that situation is being monitored. On Sunday the Health Minister, Michalis Hadjipantelas, and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Christina Yiannaki, had a meeting with the management of the State Health Services Organization (SHSO) and the Directors of General Hospitals across the island to assess the situation and exchange views.

Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas told the press that last Friday a meeting took place with SHSO and they decided to move some patients from the public hospitals to the private sector so in case there is a rise in the number of hospitalizations to be able to cope.
He said that a protocol will be issued for the transfer of patients and will include certain wards and clinics.

Asked about the new variant and whether the booster shot is protective enough, he said that now there is a higher need for the 3rd dose, adding that maybe the booster shot does not offer 100% protection but 70-80% which is very important.

The Minister said that now is even more imperative to wear a face mask . Asked about the protests by some parents against the new measures, the Minister said that figures show that cases were detected in schools and the measures by the Cabinet were taken following the suggestions of the scientists. Ηe noted that the options are two, to either use face masks in schools, or to shut down schools and the government chose the first option as this is the right way to go.

Replying to another question whether there were vaccinated people who were treated in an ICU and lost their lives, the Minister said that most of the patients who died are people with other health conditions adding that the number of people who got both doses of the vaccine and they lost their lives without having other conditions, is very small.

As regards passengers from African countries and the process followed by the authorities in Cyprus, Hadjipantelas said that the results of the tests for 11 people are negative but a second check will be done for confirmation.

Replying to another question about the possibility to have stricter measures , the Minister said that this is an option that is being discussed and the suggestions of the Scientific Committee will be tabled tomorrow in a new meeting.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry said that vaccinations have increased in ages 12-19. She added that on Saturday a total of approximately 6,000 inoculations took place and that as regards the vaccinations for ages 5-11 these will take place in walk in centers.  More walk in centers will operate the next days in various villages and the aim is to reach 83% in fully vaccinated citizens, she added.


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