The aim of the new, Covid-19 measures is to save the Christmas holidays, Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas said on Tuesday.
Replying to questions after giving an assessment of the health ministry’s work, Hadjipantelas said the aim was for society and the economy to function as smoothly as possible during the Christmas period.
The government is scheduled to announce new measures for dealing with the recent surge in cases on Wednesday.
Hadjipantelas said the government took into account the reasonable views of different groups, such as the employers and parents, but also, “pays heed to the suggestions of the experts as regards taking any measures.”
He warned that if more people were not vaccinated or if the measures were not observed, “we will be forced to go to stricter ones.”
As regards vaccinations, the minister said the coverage of the total population was at 67.3 per cent, with that of the adult population reaching 81 per cent. In the 16 to 17 ages, the vaccination rate is at 41.3 per cent while in the 12 to 15 age group it is 28 per cent.
“The measures to be announced on Wednesday will help boost vaccinations,” he said.
Asked about healthcare professionals, he said the percentage among doctors is a little higher than that and of nurses, but overall health workers are vaccinated at a rate of about 80 per cent.
The minister expressed his satisfaction with the pace of vaccinations in recent days, noting that only on Monday around 8,000 were vaccinated, 1,000 with the first dose. He admitted that there were some problems with delays in the walk-in vaccination centres but that they decided on measures to alleviate these problems.
Assessing the management of the pandemic, Hadjipantelas said that by the end of October, the ministry had exceeded its approved budget by €125m. He also said that during the pandemic the ministry set up the Famagusta hospital as a reference hospital for Covid-19 patients, in cooperation with Okypy, while it placed under the minister’s orders more than 360 doctors and nurses. There was also significant overtime work by hospital staff so as to deal with the big needs of the intensive care units.
According to the minister around 5,200 patients were referred during this period to the private sector including outside of Gesy, for treatment.
On the issue of mental health during the pandemic, Hadjipantelas said that the health ministry was in a cooperation agreement with a centre where patients who have had coronavirus and who are dealing with issues after being ill can receive care. He stressed that the issue of mental health is of particular concern to the ministry, and in this way, it gives the opportunity to people to benefit from the centre’s treatments while at the same time strengthening the mental health services in Cyprus.
Hadjipantelas also referred to the goal of licensing the production of medical cannabis in Cyprus by 2023. At the moment, he added, the regulations were being amended according to the suggestions of the state legal services.