Cyprus Health Minister, Constantinos Ioannou, said on Thursday that the epidemiological outlook is fragile and the situation could get out of control.
In statements after the vaccination of members of the Council of Ministers with the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and asked about the situation in hospitals and if restrictive measures will be relaxed in view of Easter, Ioannou said that "we have been urging people for a long time now to cooperate, taking the necessary protective measures, because the situation was and remains fragile."
Ioannou noted that there is an increase of the positivity rate which is cause for concern. He went on to say that as a result the number of people who are in hospital and are treated in ICUs has increased.
Ioannou said that the Units have not reached their limits, but there are objective difficulties and it is very easy, and this may be a matter of days, for the situation to get out of control.
Therefore, it is important and we urge the people to take the necessary hygiene measures and comply with the protocols, he added, noting that in the current period the percentage of people who comply with the measures is not high.
"We need to understand that the situation is still difficult. Europe is experiencing a third wave, some countries a fourth one. We need a couple of months to get the necessary vaccination coverage and we need to be patient," Ioannou noted.
He stressed that "the key is the vaccination and not the vaccines. It is the vaccination that saves lives, that protects us from a serious disease. Let`s trust the EMA scientists, our scientists who guide our decisions", adding that "all licensed vaccines are secure."
"We urge the people to proceed for vaccination," he added noting that there will be more than 200 thousand vaccinations during these days in Cyprus, and "our aim is to get the most-wanted vaccination coverage in order to return to normality."
Responding to a question, Ioannou said that they expect to have herd immunity in Cyprus at the end of June.
Asked if Cyprus' vaccination programme will be affected by the fact that Johnson & Johnson has pushed back the EU rollout of its single-dose vaccine following reports of blood clots, Ioannou said the impact of this development will be very limited, since Cyprus would get 50 thousand of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by June.
The suspension of the vaccines distribution is temporary, it is a measure which the company itself has taken until the EMA decides whether its use is secure, he added.