COVID-19’s second wave hitting more severely
Turkey has witnessed four important dates so far in its ongoing efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 10, the Turkish Health Ministry reported the first case and thus formally launched an anti-virus struggle through strict measures announced after only a few days.
On June 1, Turkey announced a gradual reopening of the country as the numbers decreased, just like many countries that wanted to benefit from the touristic season in the summer months. Turkey reported less than 1,000 cases in early June, indicating a significant decline in the figures.
Turkey’s third important date is July 29, the day when the Health Ministry shifted its methodology in disseminating daily coronavirus figures.
As stated later by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Turkey merely reported COVID-19 patients and not entirely new cases. Asymptomatic cases did not need to be registered, Koca explained, although the WHO guidance stipulates the opposite.
The fourth important date is Nov. 17, as the government announced new restrictions, including half-day weekend curfews and the closure of restaurants and cafes, and a return to online education for the schools.
There is a general acceptance that the government’s move symbolizes the formal start of the second wave of the coronavirus in Turkey.
According to the ministry’s figures, the number of COVID-19 patients increased from 1,815 to 4,215 in just the last 30 days, with concerns that this surge could lead to the uncontrollable spread of the virus.
Non-governmental medical associations suggest that around 50,000 people are getting infected with the coronavirus every day, according to the information they gather from their organizations across the country. A story printed by the daily Hürriyet argues that there are currently around half a million COVID-19 cases in Turkey.
The Turkish healthcare system seems to be able to cope with the situation, but there are reports from smaller cities, like Manisa and Bursa, where they have limited intensive care capacity.
The new measures announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have sparked a new controversy in the country as many experts considered them as lax measures that won’t effectively curb the spread of the virus.
The measures were carefully designed not to hit the wheels of the Turkish economy, which already has some troubles. Life will continue without major changes except for the closure of restaurants and cafes.
Senior members of the Science Board suggest that the government may be forced to take draconian measures if things do not change within the next two weeks.
That’s why, along with the opposition parties, they suggest that at least a two-week lockdown would be much more useful to stop things getting worse.
Associate Professor Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz warns that the situation could get much more complicated depending on decreasing temperature, and that would make more restrictions, including curfews, inevitable.
Professor Sait Gönen, the dean of the Cerrahpaşa Medical School, warns that the occupancy rate of the intensive
care has come to an alarming level, surpassing the situation that Turkey observed in April when the coronavirus recorded its peak.
All these observations and analyses show that the second wave of the coronavirus is likely to hit Turkey more severely if the government does not opt for more radical measures and limit social and economic mobility.