NICOSIA, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) — Cyprus’ Health Ministry announced on Tuesday night record numbers of five COVID-19 deaths and 419 new cases in one day.

A ministry statement said the new deaths raised the number of people who died of COVID-19 complications to 68, while the total coronavirus infections since the pandemic started in mid-March stood at 13,286, in a population of under one million.

It added that a total of 115 people were being treated in hospitals for coronavirus, 21 of them in serious condition.

Just before the new figures were announced, Cyprus’ President presided over a meeting of the scientific team advising the government on the pandemic and the ministers of health, finance, labor and education to consider developments and possibly new restrictions.

Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou told the state run Cyprus News Agency ahead of the meeting that relaxation of restrictions planned for the Christmas and New Year festive period between Dec. 24 and Jan. 5 were out of the question under current circumstances.

“The analysis of the epidemiological data up to now does not allow any relaxation of existing restrictions,” Ioannou said.

He added that a final decision to either relax or extend current restrictions beyond Dec. 13, or even impose stricter ones — including completely closing down cafes and restaurants, which are currently allowed to stay open until 7 p.m. — will be made at a Cabinet meeting on Friday.

Cyprus’ coronavirus situation worsened after air travel restrictions were lifted in early July, following a successful handling of the first phase of the crisis between March and the end of June.

Much of the first phase success was attributed to the abundance of consumables and life support machines provided by China, which helped health workers to treat less than 1,000 infected people. Enditem

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