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Epidemiologist: It is only a matter of time before Delta+ comes to Cyprus

It is only a matter of time before Delta+ comes to Cyprus, according to epidemiologist Michalis Voniatis, who urged the public to continue with their vaccination regime to create a protective shield.

In statements to CNA, he also said that flu cases will be on the rise in the winter months because last year influenza A did not make an appearance which means this year the immunity in the population will be low.

He said the Delta+ is a variant which is known to scientists since June and circulates amongst the unvaccinated population causing outbreaks of the COVID pandemic.

This, however, will depend largely on how fast we increase out vaccination coverage.

Asked about the new variant Delta+, he said it is not present on the island but it is only a matter of time before it becomes. “We are monitoring it and local testing is taking place and sent to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,” he said.
The fact that Delta+ is dominant in England, means it is only a matter of time before it comes to Cyprus. “Movement is free, there is air connection, therefore, it is only a matter of time and we must be vigilant and monitor the situation because we do not know yet its implications even if in the US and UK there is a significant increase in COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Voniatis.

He also noted that in the UK “there has been an increase in deaths and this raises questions over the morbidity it is causing”, he added.

Dr. Voniatis pointed out that it is slightly more infectious than the Delta variant but not to a great extent. The Delta variant was quite infectious and has been prevalent for a long time, not allowing any other variant to take over.

The epidemiologist also told CNA that in the winter months there will be an increase in the number of COVID cases. For the time being, he said, the numbers are up and this is not good because if this continues, with people being indoors during the winter, we will see an increase, mainly amongst children who are most vulnerable at the moment. “So we are appealing to parents to vaccinate in order to protect their children too. And we are talking about children under 12.”

He further pointed out that flu cases will be on the rise this winter. “What concerns us most about the flu issue is that already in the U.S. there has been an increase of 23% in flu cases compared to 2020 23%, which is a significant increase, said Dr. Voniatis, noting we need to monitor this in Cyprus. “Everyone should be vaccinated for the flu whether they belong to vulnerable groups or are elderly people because it is a good protection measure,” he added.

He explained that the flu virus last year was hardly noticeable, with the result that over time immunity in the population drops and then the virus makes its appearance. In addition, in many countries, he said, personal protective measures have been relaxed which helps the transmission of the flu virus.

Dr. Voniatis said that surely there will be more respiratory virus infections but scientists are more concerned about the flu, which is a serious illness that can cause pneumonitis and respiratory failure. He also said that another vaccine that would be useful for people over 65 is the pneumococcal vaccine.

Last year, he added, we did not have any serious cases of influenza. He said there were a total of 19 deaths between December 2018 to March 2019. “I hope that this year we will not have deaths. If we have high vaccination coverage this will be prevented. In 2018-2019 we did not have high vaccination coverage for the flu vaccine,” he added.

Dr. Voniatis also expressed concern about the situation in schools. “We used to have three to eight COVID cases per day at schools, but now we see an outbreak of more than 40 per day. This is worrying us and we will see how the situation unfolds”,  adding “the only way we can contain this is for both teachers and parents to get vaccinated as this is the only safety net for children”.

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