Virus cases still hovering at alarming level, says Turkish health minister
The number of daily COVID-19 infections that have been hovering at around 5,000 and 7,000 recently in Turkey is still worrying, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said as the country has already vaccinated more than 1.4 million people.
“We managed to bring injections down significantly thanks to the anti-virus restrictions. However, around 5,000 to 7,000 daily infections have been recorded lately and this causes worries,” Koca wrote on twitter, urging the public to stay away crowded places and stick to the rules, such as wearing face masks and social distancing.
In early December 2020, Turkey recorded more than 30,000 cases. In the face of the surge in the infections the government introduced a series of restrictions including weeknight curfews and full lockdown on weekends.
As part of the anti-virus measures, restaurants and cafes are now only allowed to provide takeaway and delivery services.
Experts argue that combined with the massive vaccination the restrictions will provide the country some respite in the months ahead.
Turkey rolled out its inoculation program on Jan. 14. The vaccine, brought from China, has already been administered to more than 1.4 million people, including frontline health care workers and those aged over 80.
The last batch of 6.5 million doses of the vaccine, developed by the Chinese pharma company Sinovac, arrived in Jan. 25. Those came on top of the 3.5 million doses of the jab Turkey received last December 2020.
Authorities target to vaccinate as much as 12 million people by the first week of March as another 10 million doses of the jab are expected to arrive in the country in the next two weeks, according to local media.
In the next round of the inoculations, people aged over 65 and teachers as well as members of the military and police officers will receive the shot by early March.
People need to make appointments to take their shots. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
“Turkey is using its vaccination program and capacity in a very effective way,” Batyr Berdyklychev, the World Health Organization (WHO) country representative to Turkey, told Demirören News Agency.
Local authorities made preparations for the inoculation program swiftly and successfully, he said, adding that the population to get the shot were prioritized in line with the WHO’s recommendations.
Berdyklychev noted that the curfews and weekend lockdowns as well as face mask and social distancing rules help bring down the number of infections down in Turkey.