Minister refutes ‘return of face masks’ allegations

Minister refutes ‘return of face masks’ allegations

Gizem Karakış – ANKARA
Minister refutes ‘return of face masks’ allegations

Fahrettin Koca, Türkiye’s health minister, has said the bad days of the coronavirus pandemic are over and refused the allegations that face masks will be mandatory again in the fall.

With the rise of the number of infections, an assertion that citizens will be forced to wear face masks again in the up-coming months sensationalized the social media last week.

When asked if the allegations were true, the minister, on June 28, hinted “no.”

“The disease is ongoing, but like flu. However, COVID-19 will continue to be a risk for the elderly people and those with chronic diseases,” he said and recommended these risky groups to be aware of the virus.

Highlighting that COVID-19 is no longer a “worry issue” for the public anymore, the minister said, “Yes, the number of infections more than tripled in the last weeks, but the rate of hospitalization is continuing to decline.”

“Bad days over. There is no need to search for the same [bad days] in the future. Everybody should be at ease,” the minister said, while refusing the face mask allegations.

As the pandemic situation improved, Türkiye already lifted the outdoor mask mandate in March and scrapped the indoor mask mandate partially on April 26, with the rule to be followed only in hospitals and while on public transportation.

As of May 30, the country scrapped the mandate for wearing face masks on public transport. People are required to have them on in hospitals only.

Türkiye announced the first COVID-19 case on March 13, 2020. With the rise in the number of cases, the government announced measures, face mask mandates, partial curfews and lockdowns on May 4 of the same year.

It was the end of December 2020 when the first batch of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine was brought to Türkiye. Since Dec. 30, 2021, citizens have been administered the indigenous coronavirus vaccine Turkovac in state hospitals across the country.

To date, Türkiye has administered nearly 148 million doses of the vaccine against the coronavirus with 53 million people having been double jabbed. More than 27 million people have been given a booster shot and nearly 58 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

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