Experts urge caution, vigilance over virus variants

Experts urge caution, vigilance over virus variants

Experts urge caution, vigilance over virus variants

Turkey may see a surge in COVID-19 cases in the months to come due to the different virus variants found in more than 20 provinces, experts have warned, urging the public to remain vigilant and exercise caution.

Turkey detected two cases of the South African variant and one case of the Brazilian variant of COVID-19, while the number of cases related to the U.K. variant of the coronavirus neared 200, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

The variants of the coronavirus have been found in at least 21 provinces of the country, said a member of the Health Ministry’s Science Board.

Professor Serap Şimşek Yavuz pointed that there has been a surge in the daily number of COVID-19 cases and said that “if this recent increase in infections is related to the virus variants, we are worried about a possible rise in the cases in the months to come.”

This is a period people need to be vigilant, and the vaccination works should gain momentum, Yavuz said.

Turkey, which launched its inoculation program against COVID-19 on Jan. 14, has vaccinated more than 2.5 million people, mostly health care workers and the elderly to date.

Koca announced earlier this week that the vaccination of citizens over 65 and the second group, which includes essential workers, will commence after safety tests of the jabs are completed.

In the second shipment of a second batch of the Chinese vaccine shots, Turkey received 3.5 million more doses on Jan. 29.

Yavuz also stressed that the current anti-virus measures must remain in place and suggested that introducing more restrictions will become inevitable if the cases keep rising.

Prof. Dr. Tevfik Özlü, another member of the Science Board, shared Yavuz’s concerns. “The pace of the spread of the outbreak may gain momentum once again because of the virus variants and the variants could make it more difficult to take the outbreak under control,” he said.

Sticking to the anti-virus measures is the only way for people to protect themselves against the virus and to stop the spread of the disease, he added.

The daily number of COVID-19 case have been hovering at around 8,000 over the past week. Turkey has been imposing weeknight curfews and full lockdowns on weekends since December 2020 as part of the anti-virus restrictions.

The Interior Ministry issued a directive on Feb. 5 regarding the operating hours of florist shops due to the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

The regulation allows florists to deliver flowers to homes from 8 p.m. until midnight on Feb. 12 while they will be able serve customers between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 13 and Feb. 14. Those shops will also be allowed to provide delivery services from 10 a.m. to midnight on Valentine’s Day weekend.