Cases remain high as minister renews warning about Istanbul

Cases remain high as minister renews warning about Istanbul

Cases remain high as minister renews warning about Istanbul

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned about the COVD-19 situation in Istanbul, noting that most of the new cases are registered in the country’s largest city as the number of daily infections remain above 70,000.

“The virus can spread easily in Istanbul. Thus [the anti-virus] measures should be taken seriously and implemented properly. Nearly half of the daily cases have been recorded in the city in the past weeks,” Koca wrote on Twitter, urging the city’s residents to get their booster shots and follow the face mask and social distancing rules.

Indeed, according to the latest weekly data, the incidence rate measuring the number of coronavirus infections per 100,000 people, leaped from 664 cases between Dec. 25 and 31, 2021, to 1,222 in the city in the week of Jan. 1-Jan. 7.

Istanbul, the country’s financial and commercial center, is home to more than 15 million people. In the previous waves of the coronavirus, it was also the epicenter of the pandemic.

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has triggered a surge in cases in other parts of the country, including the second and third largest cities of Ankara and İzmir.

However, thanks to vaccinations, the hospitalization rate and the number of people, who need treatment in intensive care units, have not yet spiked while the daily casualties from the virus have remained below 2,000.

In an earlier post on Twitter, Koca recalled why it is important to properly use the face masks to cover the nose and mouth, as they, the minister said, provide “the most effective protection” against the coronavirus.

The cases began to rise in last December 2021 across the country, but climbed above 60,000 in early January, hitting a record high of 77,722 on Jan. 12.

Since then, the daily infections have been around or above 70,000, prompting health officials and experts to make repeated calls on the public to get vaccinated, particularly to get the booster shots against COVID-19.

In Istanbul, 77 percent of the residents aged 18 and above have been doubled jabbed, while across Turkey more than 52 million people, or over 84 percent of the adult population, have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to data from the Health Ministry, 24 million people have been given a third dose of the jab, while more than 57 million others have been administered at least one dose of the vaccine.

Since it launched its vaccination program in January last year, Turkey has given more than 140 million doses of the injection to its population.

At the end of December, Turkey started to use its own locally developed vaccine, Turkovac, besides Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA jab and the Chinese company Sinovac’s inactivated shot CoronaVac.