Lockdown, stricter measures not on the cards yet, says expert
Stricter measures against COVID-19 are not currently being considered but they could be on the cards again if the daily infections spike, an expert has said.
“The daily number of virus cases appears to have plateaued at around 30,000 but injections may pick up, and if they climb to 60,000 or 70,000, some measures, including lockdowns and closing schools could be imposed,” said Professor Alper Şener from the Health Ministry’s Science Board, which advises the government on the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey lifted almost all restrictions, including weeknight curfews and weekend lockdowns, this summer after the daily injections dropped from record highs in April to around 5,000. Millions of students returned to schools for in-class education in early September.
“The virus cases may peak again, show sudden increases in the period ahead. That happened before and, if that occurs again, we will have to consider taking stricter measures,” Şener said.
He also warned that the vaccination drive in Turkey has almost come to a halt.
“The pace of the inoculation program has slowed considerably and there are certain groups of people, who are not heeding calls for getting vaccinated and that group also include those who have had two doses of the vaccine but need to get the booster shots,” Şener added.
According to Şener, those, who are not getting vaccinated, are aged below 65 and they risk being hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment, which will increase hospitals’ caseloads in the period ahead.
“In the wake of the emergence of the Delta variant [of the coronavirus] we now need to achieve a herd immunity rate of 85 percent. If we can manage to reduce the damages from COVID-19 to a minimum, I believe the pandemic may turn into an endemic in the first half of 2022,” he said.
Since the inoculation program was rolled out in mid-January, Turkey has administered more than 116 million doses of the vaccine.
Nearly 47 million people, which account for over 78 percent of the adult population aged 18 and above, have been double jabbed, while more than 55 million people - or 89 percent of the adults – have received the first dose of the vaccine. The country has also given third booster shots to at least 11 million people.