Experts urge vigilance amid emergence of new virus strain
Turkish medical experts have urged the public to exercise caution and remain vigilant against the threats from the newly found COVID-19 strain, Omicron, as in winter months people are likely to be more exposed to risks.
“Initial information suggests that vaccinated people, who contracted Omicron, do not develop severe symptoms. But, in Turkey, the vaccination rates are currently not at the desired level. We are still having problems explaining to people how important getting the shot is,” said Professor Melih Us.
He added that if the jab drive is now given a boost to vaccinate 80 percent of the country’s population it would take at least two months to meet this target.
“The winter is ahead. We need to pursue people again to wear face masks and observe social distancing.”
Us offered certain restrictions for the unvaccinated, such as not allowing them to go to office or to dine in restaurants. “Those who are not fully vaccinated should not go to shopping centers. If those measures are taken the spread of the virus could be reduced by 50 percent,” he said.
To date, more than 50 million people or over 81 percent of the population aged 18 and above have been fully vaccinated while 56 million people have been given at least one dose of the vaccine and another 12 million have received a third dose of the jab.
Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan agreed that the vaccine is a strong weapon against the new variant as well as the basic anti-virus precautions.
“Apparently, most of the infected are unvaccinated. The way the virus spread has not changed, so the same rules still applies to contain the spread of the disease: Mask, social distancing and hygiene,” İlhan said.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said no cases of the Omicron variant had been found in Turkey as of Nov. 29.
“The emergence of the new strain once again underscores the importance of taking precautions,” Koca wrote on Twitter.