Expected decline in virus cases not happening, warns minister
Expectations for a decline in COVID-19 cases did not materialize over the weekend, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, repeating calls for the public to get vaccinated against the virus.
On Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, Turkey registered 19,351 and 18,622 cases respectively, a slight decline from the previous days last week.
The daily infections dropped to as low as 5,000 in June after touching a record high of 60,000 in March and April.
However, the number of cases started to increase again in late July and continued its upward trend in August when the daily infections have been hovering above 20,000.
The fact that the cases did not decline over the weekend was a warning that “we must be more cautious and more insistent on adhering to the anti-virus rules,” Fahrettin Koca said.
“We can make it with vaccinations,” the minister wrote on Twitter.
Data from the Health Ministry show that Turkey has administered more than 89 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to date.
Since it launched the inoculation program in mid-January, over 35 million people have been given two doses, which corresponded to nearly 57 percent of the population aged 18 and above while more than 46 million people have received their first doses of the vaccine, over 74 percent of the adult population.
Additionally, close to 8 million people have been administered the third dose of the injection.
In a bid to encourage vaccination, Turkey will require unvaccinated people to present negative PCR tests to attend social events, such as concerts, or to enter public venues, including cinemas and theaters, starting Sept. 6.
Moreover, the PCR test requirements for intercity trips by planes, buses, trains or other public transportation vehicles, excluding private vehicles, by those who are not vaccinated will also come into force on Sept. 6.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 has become the dominant strain in Turkey, and it is causing concern. This strain is twice as contagious as previous coronavirus variants. Unvaccinated people are the most vulnerable,” said Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Board which advises the government on the pandemic.
Hospitalization, severe cases of COVID-19 and the death from the virus are significantly lower among the vaccinated people compared to unvaccinated, he added.