Normalization in Turkish provinces to be based on points scoring-system
Provinces in Turkey will be allowed to move ahead with easing COVID-19-related restrictions based on a point scoring-system in which they will be evaluated according to their success in certain areas.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced earlier this week a plan to a gradual return to normal life on a province-based approach from March.
Provinces will be categorized as low, medium, high, and very high-risk based on infection and vaccination rates.
“We are gradually lifting curfews starting with weekend lockdowns, based on infection, vaccination and other criteria in provinces,” Erdoğan announced on Feb. 17 following a cabinet meeting.
There will be criteria to ease restrictions and each criterion will be assigned a point, and provinces managing to score certain points will be allowed to loosen the curbs, Dr. Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz from the Health Ministry’s Science Board told daily Hürriyet.
“Members of the board are presently working on a particular indicator to be used in this scoring system,” he added.
Those criteria for provinces include the number of virus cases within seven to 14 days, the positivity rates in COVID-19 tests, the occupation rates at hospital’s intensive care units and admission of new patients to the virus wards and the state of the vaccination, Kayıpmaz explained.
If a province sees a decline in the infections, then it will be allowed to gradually ease restrictions, such as curfews, reopening of restaurants and cafes or moving to face-to-face education in schools, he noted.
However, if inspections conducted regularly reveal that the number of COVID-19 care is on the rise, then curbs will be tightened in those provinces, Kayıpmaz said.
The Health Ministry earlier this week released a map of the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people on a provincial basis, which showed that the provinces in the country’s eastern Black Sea region are the most severely affected.
For instance, the rate of the number of coronavirus cases per 100,000 people between Feb. 8 and 14 was 228 in Trabzon, 202 in the neighboring province of Rize and 194 in the province of Ordu, well above the country average, whereas in Istanbul, which was once epicenter of the outbreak in Turkey, the corresponding rate was 60.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca this week said that variants of the virus had been detected in 37 provinces in Turkey. He, however, dismissed suggestions that the situation in the Black Sea province is related to the virus variant.
Koca linked the higher cases in those provinces to large gatherings such as wedding ceremonies and funerals.