Istanbul may not overcome outbreak in short term
Istanbul, Turkey’s most populous province with nearly 16 million residents, may still have a long way ahead before risks from the coronavirus disappear as at least 67 percent of its population should develop immunity against the disease, according to experts.
“We estimate that presently around 15 percent of the inhabitants have developed immunity. And if this figure is true, we need more time before the disease dies away in the city. Infection risks may well continue into 2022,” said Prof. Dr. Osman Erk from Istanbul University’s Medical School.
New antibody tests will provide a clearer picture as to the number of people with immunity against COVID-19 across the country and in Istanbul, added Professor Tufan Tükek, the dean of the medical school.
“PCR tests and the assumption that some 60 percent of all recorded cases are in Istanbul suggest that around 1.8 million people in the city are either asymptomatic carriers or have developed immunity. When the number of [daily] cases drop below 100, this will be a breather,” Tükek said, adding that the nationwide curfew imposed during the Eid holiday at the end of May could help with this.
However, Istanbul is a very crowded with more than 2,800 in per square kilometers, making it difficult for people to adhere to the social distancing rule. This figure goes up as much as 30,000 or 40,000 people per square meters in some districts, such as Güngören, Gaziosmanpaşa, and Bağcılar.
“In Istanbul certain measures could be taken to prevent the spread of the disease. Public transport and shopping centers are very crowded and risky places. Work shifts at businesses could be arranged to minimize the risks and working from home practice may continue,” said Professor Tevfik Özlü from the Science Board.