Professor of Microbiology/Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Petros Karayiannis has expressed concern over the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases since schools opened last week.
He told the Cyprus News Agency, on Tuesday that there is a concern because children who have not been vaccinated go to school and no PCR or rapid test is performed. Therefore all self-protective measures and protocols regarding children should be implemented, he remarked.
He also said that since the Delta variant is predominant in Cyprus, and it is easily transmissible to children, they in turn can become ill and infect others. "There is concern on how things will develop", said Dr. Karayiannis.
Last week, when children in secondary schools returned to classes, there were 13 isolated positive cases among students and two teachers. Secondary school students, he said, are more mobile and mingle between them. Dr. Karayiannis said the need for self-protective measures not only inside schools but also within schools when for example they are playing football outside or are chatting while sitting on a bench is necessary. The source of infection, he said, could be outside school and they, in turn, take the virus to school and then their homes. There is a grave concern mainly in families with unvaccinated persons, he added.
As far as small children are concerned, the professor advised the use of masks whenever possible, or at least when they are in class and to exercise caution during their activities. Parents, he added, need to tell children to be careful.
The vaccination coverage at schools is increasing, he said as the demand is increasing lately due to children returning to schools and holidays ending.
Asked what will happen in the event of clusters of cases, he said protocols are clear and schools will not close down. "The children’s contacts will be traced and we hope that there will not be any clusters. This is what we are all trying to avoid. I believe it is a little bit impossible to avoid it altogether but at least we can try to contain it”, he added.
He said a feeling of self - protection needs to be nurtured. "We have said on many occasions that we must learn to live with the virus and we will manage that without restricting people, by maintaining self-protective measures like we did in the summer”, he added.
"We had the most serious wave in Cyprus but due to the vaccination coverage and self-protective measures, the economy continued to function and we managed to gradually decrease the number of cases from 1,165 to 120 on average in the last three days”, he added.