Lifting face mask mandate to be discussed next week: Minister

Lifting face mask mandate to be discussed next week: Minister

Lifting face mask mandate to be discussed next week: Minister

Coronavirus cases peaked as of last weekend and the rate of infections will likely accelerate, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, adding that many decisions, including the lifting of the face mask mandate, will be discussed during a Science Board meeting slated for next week.

Speaking on late Feb. 16 after the cabinet meeting in the capital Ankara, Koca said coronavirus cases peaked in the country as of last weekend.

“Infections started to decline, which is likely to accelerate next week,” he said. “Hospitalization rate has declined by 28 to 30 percent. The number of ICU patients decreased by 15 percent. We will witness a significant fall [in numbers] in the next 2-3 weeks,” he added.

When asked if Turkey will lift the coronavirus measures like other EU countries, Koca pointed out the ministry’s upcoming meeting of the Science Board.

“We will discuss the point we came on our struggle against the coronavirus and the next actions we will take. The lifting of the face mask mandate will be an issue on the table at that meeting,” Koca said.

Another issue on the table during the meeting will be the PCR tests. “We only want to make tests on those who feel sick [show symptoms]. Those infected should wear masks and should be isolated,” he noted.

Koca also highlighted the deliveries of the indigenous coronavirus vaccine Turkovac - effective on Alpha and Delta variants - to all the state hospitals would start as of next week.

“Animal testing about the effects of Turkovac on the Omicron has started. I think the Turkovac vaccine, which will also be effective on the Omicron variant, will be ready in March,” he said.

Giving data about the deliveries, he underlined, “We have some 800,000 Turkovac doses in the market as of now. We will deliver 200,000 more on Feb. 21. Then we will produce some 2.5 million doses a month.”