We may be on the verge of a coronavirus outbreak in Cyprus, said Professor of Μicrobiology and Molecular Virology at the University of Nicosia Medical School, Peter Karayiannis and warned that if stricter measures are not taken, Cyprus may face the same situation as with Italy.
He told the Cyprus News Agency that the confirmed cases will likely increase, adding that if they surpass 100, then things will be out of control.
Professor Karayiannis urged the public not to panic but instead abide by all measures announced.
He said the advisory committee of the Ministry of Health on the Coronavirus, where he is a member, is considering more measures which will be announced as soon as the Ministry is ready.
He explained that a pandemic means the transmission is at such a level that it can infect 60% – 70% of a country’s population, adding that mathematical models say that every person with the flu can transmit to another person, but this particular virus can be transmitted to three persons, so it is three times more contagious than the flu.
Asked what the situation is like in Cyprus and whether the concern is justified, Karayiannis said that so far there are six cases and it looks like the virus will affect us for good. What is especially of concern is the isolated case which might have transmitted the virus to multiple people who we are not aware of, he said.
“Therefore, I believe we may be on the verge of an outbreak in Cyprus and if we do not take measures now, we might end up in the same situation as with Italy. I do not want to cause panic. I am saying this to justify the measures taken by the Ministry of Health, which some people said were strict. What I am saying is that they might not be so strict and stricter measures will need to be taken”, the Professor said.
Professor Karayiannis added the measures taken by the government are the correct ones but “if things are left out of control, we will have a big problem to face”.
He also said that the number of confirmed cases will probably rise. “If we exceed 100 cases, then things will spiral”, Professor Karayiannis said.
Asked what is the difference between the flue and the coronavirus, he explained that a large number of the population are immune to the flu due to the flu shot and therefore it is more difficult for the flu to spread.
However, nobody is immune to the coronavirus among the general public. The fact that 85% of those who will be infected will not develop severe symptoms leading to death, does not mean that we should forget the 15%, he remarked.
Professor Karayiannis said that in a pandemic the spread will be so rapid that a large proportion of the population will require hospitalization.
“People should not say that they are not in danger. We are dealing with a virus which has spread to two-thirds of the countries worldwide and is very contagious”, he warned. It is “so contagious that it can infect 60-70% of the population of a country”, he added.
Asked if reports that the 2/3 of the world population will be infected, the professor expressed hope that we do not reach this point, adding that what is happening in Italy is the appropriate thing to do.
He said he hopes the warmer weather to come will halt the virus’ spread however it is a new virus and there is no prior knowledge or experience on it, therefore it is very difficult to say at this level if it can be halted.
Professor Karayannis urged the public to remain calm and not panic, adding that if stricter measures are announced, they must be adhered to so we do not end up like Italy and China.