NewsLocalLockdown option still 'on the table' Health Minister warns

Lockdown option still ‘on the table’ Health Minister warns

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou warned of the “existing and visible danger” concerning the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and called on people to cooperate and follow the guidelines provided by relevant protocols.

“If we reach the point where we no longer have beds or personnel, in order to take care of our patients, we will automatically lose control and we will go through a situation we witnessed in other countries, where medical personnel was forced to choose which lives to save,” the Minister pointed out in statements to CNA .

Ioannou also said that the possibility for a lockdown “is a scenario that remains on the table” he noted however that the government wants to exhaust all other options first, before resorting to the implementation of a “harsh” universal lockdown.

Asked by CNA to comment on the record number of 941 new COVID-19 cases, detected on Tuesday – the highest since the outbreak of the pandemic in Cyprus – the Minister spoke of a “worrisome development” and said that the Ministry was concerned that cases may increase further or even remain steady so high for a long period of time.

If we reach a point where we reach our limits and lose control of the situation, this will result in more patients being treated in hospitals and unfortunately, some of the seriously ill will die, he noted.

The Minister of Health urged people to proceed with their vaccination the soonest possible, in order to protect themselves and their beloved ones.

He also noted that hospitals are treating younger people, who, in most cases, are healthy individuals who became ill because “they did not pay enough attention or because they became too relaxed and forgot about basic personal protection measures.” “We don’t have the luxury of losing human lives” the Minister said.

He noted moreover that people have the “weapon” of vaccines at their disposal and “the more we choose to use it in this battle, the faster we will win the invisible enemy.”

But until we reach the vaccination coverage required for herd immunity, it is imperative to follow basic rules, Ioannou added and suggested that people avoid crowded places, limit their contacts and move less around, wear masks when necessary, observe personal hygiene rules and implement protocols at their work places. These small actions may protect us from witnessing a further increase in cases, and subsequently in hospitalizations and deaths, he went on.

The Minister explained that hospitals have a capacity of reaching 400 beds, with the necessary equipment and consumables. He also said that cooperation with the private sector is taking some of the burden off state hospitals, when it comes to treating non-COVID-19 related cases. The key, according to Constantinos Ioannou, lies in securing adequate human resources, doctors with specific specialization and nursing staff. Unfortunately, as in all countries, human resources are not infinite, he added.

The Health Minister told CNA that after 15 months there is fatigue among people and health professionals, but said that observing the necessary measures creates a “protective wall” for professionals, resulting to fewer cases and hospitalisations.

Asked if he believes that extraordinary, tougher measures are required and whether we are faced with the possibility of another lockdown, Ioannou said that this is an option which “is still on the table.”

He made it clear, however, that they want to exhaust all other options first and appeared confident that by observing the right measures, while proceeding with inoculations, this scenario will be prevented.

“When measures and health protocols are implemented with devotion and attention, they yield results and limit the spread of the virus,” the Minister said.

It is not the government’s intention to impose restrictions on citizens, when we can improve the epidemiological situation with people’s cooperation, he concluded.


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