Cases decline but experts urge getting booster shots
While the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline in Turkey, experts are worried that despite repeated warnings from authorities, people are still ignoring calls for getting their booster shots against coronavirus.
The number of infections, which rose above 100,000 in April, has been on a gradual decline since late February. They have been hovering below 40,000 in the past two weeks.
Turkish authorities also scrapped the outdoor mask mandate, as the pandemic situation is improving in the country.
However, some health experts have expressed their concerns, saying that relaxing the social distancing and face mask rules at this stage could be a “premature” move as the pandemic is not over yet and the vaccination rates are not at the desired level.
“The Omicron variant of the virus still poses risks to a certain group of people with underlying conditions, and most of the deaths occur among those patients because this strain is more contagious,” Professor Neşe Demirtürk said.
Speaking at an event organized by the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection (KLİMİK) held in Antalya, the expert noted that the rate among the public, especially for booster shots, is still low.
“Those who have received two doses of the vaccine do not heed the calls for a booster dose,” Demirtürk said, stressing that the booster shot rate in Turkey remains around 42 percent.
Figures show that more than 146 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the country to date, while only 27 million people have received their booster shots.
In her part, Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz emphasized that the extremely-low mortality rate is observed in highly vaccinated populations, giving the example of Hong Kong.
Noting that both the number of cases and COVID-19-related deaths and the test positivity rates are at a high level in Turkey, Yavuz pointed out that the most significant factor that led to this development was the reduction of non-vaccine measures following the Delta variant wave.
According to Yavuz, another reason is that the desired levels could not be reached in both the first two doses and the booster shots.
“In the current situation, individual measures have become very important,” Demirtürk said.
“We recommend our citizens to have their vaccinations and booster shots and continue to use masks in closed or crowded environments where social distancing cannot be maintained,” the expert added.