Experts warn against 'rushing normalization'
Turkey should not rush reopening after the current full lockdown ends, experts have warned as the government is preparing to announce a timetable for normalization in the coming days.
In the wake of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, Turkey imposed a nationwide full lockdown from April 29 until May 17, restricting intercity travel, closing restaurants and cafes as well as weekend curfews.
“We will announce our new timetable for the normalization [of pandemic measures] in the coming days,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on May 8 during an online meeting with young people.
“It is one of the top priorities of the next cabinet meeting,” Erdoğan added.
The cabinet meets every 15 days and the last meeting was held on April 26.
“The full lockdown is yielding results and its impact is seen in the number of daily cases,” said Professor Zafer Kurugöl from Ege University.
He, however, suggested that the target should not be a specific date for moving to normalization but rather it should be bringing the daily infections to a certain level instead.
The government aims to reduce the cases to 5,000, Kurugöl reminded. “This is a right target. However, I do not believe the daily infections will decline to this level by May 17.”
The number of daily cases will definitely decline, but measures and restrictions should remain in place for some more time to bring the cases down to 5,000 and lower, according to Kurugöl.
Professor Mehmet Ceyhan, one of the country’s leading experts in infectious diseases, agreed that a gradual lifting of the lockdown would be a more appropriate move.
If the lockdown is not eased gradually, people would begin intercity travel, thus further spreading the virus, Ceyhan told Anadolu Agency, adding that a drop in the number of coronavirus cases is apparent with the restrictions.
If Turkey directly goes back to the pre-April 29 days, the cases will climb again within a few weeks, Ceyhan separately told daily Milliyet.
The number of daily infections hit record highs in mid-April, hovering above 60,000. However, they have been on the decline since April 22.
Meanwhile, Turkey this weekend allowed people to go to marketplaces, which will be open again on May 15.
Vendors were permitted to sell only fruits and vegetables, while the sale of non-essential items, such as toys, clothing and glassware was banned.
People flocked to marketplaces to meet their needs on the weekend. Officials checked if shoppers had a valid HES code, an application to track COVID-19 contacts.
Vendors were required to set their stalls three meters apart from each other. However, some vendors ignored this rule.