Number of cases may peak during holiday, experts warn
NURAY BABACAN - ANKARA
As nearly 18 million Turkish students are prepared to receive their mid-term report cards and begin a two-week winter break tomorrow, health experts expect the number of COVID-19 cases to peak in the second half of February, noting that human mobility will increase during the holiday.
Increasing their efforts on the course of the pandemic in general and what the country would be experiencing during the winter months, experts sounded more alarm for February and renewed their suggestions regarding the necessity of taking new decisions accordingly.
Noting that the upward trend in cases is expected to continue for another six weeks, experts consider the abolition of the PCR test requirement, especially for travels made via intercity buses, a great danger before the winter break.
“This upward trend will be short-lived and decline in countries with high third-dose vaccine rates, but in Turkey, the third dose rate is still very low. Recommending vaccination within three months to those who had an infection also revealed that immunity could not be achieved yet,” a source told daily Hürriyet.
The number of COVID-19 cases, which is still in low numbers in Central Anatolian provinces, may increase with the start of the winter break and the Omicron variant may become dominant in these regions as well, the source noted.
The prediction that human mobility will increase with the holidays and that the share of Anatolian provinces in the total number of cases in the country will increase within 10 days is another cause of concern.
Nearly 80 percent of all cases in Turkey will be the Omicron variant until the beginning of March, according to a forecast based on the calculations made on the data in European countries.
Speaking to Demirören News Agency, Professor Oğuz Reşat Sipahi, an infectious diseases expert, noted that the occupancy rate in the intensive care unit of Ege University Medical Faculty Hospital was over 90 percent and that the Omicron variant should not be underestimated.
“There is a possibility that the situation will worsen if attention is not paid to the winter break. Wearing face masks, social distancing and hygiene rules should not be forgotten, individual measures should be increased,” Sipahi noted.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the age distribution of cases in the last week following a Coronavirus Science Meeting held on Jan. 18.
Some 13 percent of those who are positive for COVID-19 are in the age range of 12-19, and 34 percent are in the age range of 20-34, according to Koca. The two groups are followed by those aged 35-49 with 29 percent, and those aged 50-64 with 16 percent, while the rate of those over 65 is around 8 percent.