Cyprus Reflects on New Covid Measures as Per Capita Rate Surpasses the World

Cypriot authorities met on Tuesday to consider new restrictions to curb a Covid infection rate which is now the highest in the world per capita.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was due to meet with science advisers to discuss measures which could include a postponement of the start of the school year and restrictions on religious gatherings as the island prepares to mark Epiphany, a key date in the Greek religious calendar Orthodox, Thursday.

Like other European countries, the Mediterranean island has been hit by a wave of cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

According to figures from Agence France-Presse, Cyprus has recorded the world’s highest Covid infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the past seven days.

It leads with 2,505 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Denmark (2,117), Ireland (1,946), Greece (1,762) and France (1,680).

Cyprus posted five consecutive daily records last week, peaking with a New Year’s Eve peak of 5,048 out of a population of around one million. Monday’s caseload of 5,024 approached that record.

The cabinet is expected to announce new measures on Wednesday.

Further restrictions may be placed on nightclubs and places of entertainment as well as on home visits.

So far, the government has been reluctant to consider a fourth nationwide lockdown.

But on Tuesday, Cyprus tightened entry conditions at its airports, a further blow to its tourism-dependent economy.

Anyone arriving in the Republic of Cyprus must present a negative PCR test carried out no more than 48 hours before departure.

Passengers must already undergo a PCR test at the airport upon arrival, at their own expense.

Companies are required to ensure that 40% of their staff are working remotely while sites can only have customers sitting and not dancing.

Access to nightclubs, wedding venues and receptions requires that vaccinated customers show a negative Covid-19 test taken within 24 hours, although those with a recall are exempt.

All hospital visits have been banned and sports stadiums are limited to 50 percent of their capacity, compared to 75 percent.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas last week told reporters that Omicron is now the dominant strain in the community, accounting for 80% of cases.

The Republic of Cyprus has officially registered 177,721 cases of coronavirus and 641 deaths since the start of the pandemic in 2020, including two deaths on Monday.

Wearing a mask is compulsory for anyone aged 6 and over in public, outdoor and indoor spaces.

Double-vaccinated employees must undergo weekly tests and unvaccinated people are banned from reception areas and nightclubs.

cc / kir

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