Mandatory PCR tests to start on Sept 6
Turkey will require unvaccinated people to present negative PCR tests to attend social events, such as concerts, or to enter public venues, including cinemas and theaters, starting Sept. 6.
Organizers of those events and staff at those venues will check through the visitors’ HES code, which is a coronavirus contact-tracing system, to see whether they have been vaccinated or recovered or have a negative PCR test no later than the past 48 hours.
According to the circular the Interior Ministry issued, the PCR test requirement for intercity trips by planes, buses, trains or other public transportation vehicles, excluding private vehicles, by those who are not vaccinated will also come into force on Sept. 6.
Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that PCR tests would become mandatory as part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Under those plans, unvaccinated teachers, staff, and university students will also be required to take PCR tests as schools are preparing to reopen for in-class education on Sept. 6.
Despite the fast-track vaccination drive, the daily number of COVID-19 cases has been hovering above 20,000 since last July with the death toll climbing.
Unvaccinated people constitute the largest group among those who are treated in intensive care units for the coronavirus, according to Professor İsmail Balık, the head of the infectious diseases department at Ankara University.
“The second largest group is those who have received only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, followed by the patients who have received both doses but have not yet fully developed immunity. The fourth group consists of people that are fully vaccinated, but more than three months passed since the last shot,” he explained.
Since mid-January, when the inoculation drive was rolled out, more than 88.6 million doses of the vaccine has been given in Turkey. Close to 46 million people have received the first dose while over 35 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, another expert working in the Black Sea province of Rize, where the virus cases have been on the rise, said that the U.K. variant of the virus had almost disappeared.
“The Delta variant of COVID-19 accounts for around 35 percent to 40 percent of all cases. The remaining 60 percent to 70 percent are the ones which our test kits cannot identify and other suspected variants. That suggests that the virus continues to mutate fast and that we may see different variants other than the Delta plus variant,” said doctor Ayşegül Çopur Çiçek, from the microbiology department at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Medical School.