Health minister warns against rapid rise in virus cases
Turkey’s top health official and medical experts have issued warnings over the recent spike in COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant of the virus appears to be spreading fast in the country.
The number of daily infections nearly doubled in the past couple of days, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter, adding that the share of the cases due to the new strain in overall infections is rising.
“The current situation requires us to be much more cautious than usual,” the minister warned in his massage on social media.
The Health Ministry reported that the daily new infections on Dec. 30 surged to 39,681, marking the highest number of cases since April 28.
Experts said that the positivity rate -or the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 has risen to 10 percent. The positivity rate hit its highest level back in December 2020 at 35 percent.
For comparison, around 19,000 cases were reported a week ago and the rise in recorded cases in a few days is striking. On Dec. 25, there were 20,500 cases, and two days later they jumped to more than 26,000 and breached the 30,000-mark on Dec. 28.
Some experts even suggested that if cases climb to 50,000, authorities may have to impose certain restrictions. After daily infections increased to record levels in April last year, the government announced a series of actions, including weeknight curfews and lockdowns on weekends.
Most of those restrictions were lifted in summer as daily cased declined to around 5,000.
According to experts, the rise in virus cases, triggered by the Omicron variant, is likely to continue next month and infections may peak in February and March. However, experts and officials rule out imposing tighter restrictions for the time being but said stricter inspections could be conducted.
Yet some restrictions may be considered if the number of daily cases surpasses 50,000, according to experts, who warned the pace of the pandemic should be closely watched in the country’s three largest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.