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Expert says omicron variant, weather conditions and people’s fatigue reasons for outbreak in COVID cases

The Omicron sub-variant, weather conditions and growing among the people are some of the reasons explaining the current epidemiological outlook, as daily COVID cases exceed now 5,000 people, says the member of the Advisory Scientific Committee, Lecturer in Paediatrics at the European University of Cyprus, Dr. Zoe-Dorothea Pana.

Speaking to CNA, Dr. Pana stated that the outbreak of cases is a phenomenon observed not just in Cyprus, but there is a general concern across Europe.

She noted that due to the predominance of the Omicron sub-variant, which is super transmissible, the dispersion in the community has increased.

On the other hand, she added, seasonality, weather conditions that are not improving as well as indoor interactions, in combination with the fact that we are in a phase where society is trying to remain open, two years after the pandemic, also played a role.

Another reason she mentioned is the pandemic fatigue. Despite the fact that people are by now familiar with the way the pandemic affects daily life, there is also a psychological aspect concerning their weariness, which affects compliance, she said.

The main issue we expect to find out is whether immunity from vaccination is declining, she pointed out.

“So the combination of all these factors contributes to the current outlook in the community,” she said, and pointed to the fact that people have the possibility to test regularly and thus “we can detect a significant number of people who are infected.”

When asked whether the increase of cases was something expected, Pana said that “to some extent it was expected to have an increase, both due to the super-transmissibility of the Omicron sub-variant and due to the fact that society is open as well as because of increased laboratory tests”, noting that there is a similar problem in all countries.

“The question now, at this stage of the pandemic, is to see if the wall of immunity, especially in the community, is sufficient to halt a corresponding increase in serious illness and hospitalizations. If this is the case and it is the most probable scenario, then an outburst in the community will not bother us in the same way that it used to bother us in the past”, she adds.

She noted that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has stated that it is concerned whether, at this stage, infections in the community are in themselves a reliable indicator.

“We have to monitor what is happening in the community but the interest and the strategy is mainly determined by the serious illness and the in-hospital indicators. The key is to find the right balance between what is happening in the community and what we see in terms of serious illness and hospitalizations”, she added.

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