Turkey to take critical decisions concerning COVID-19 pandemic
As can be recalled, despite the objections of public health experts, the government had decided to ease restrictions in late February after it introduced a new normalization model on the basis of the performance of the provinces under four categories.
On March 1 when this model was started to be implemented, Turkey was marking around 10,000 new cases on average. The figures display that the numbers have increased five times only in less than six weeks.
It’s clear that due to the multiple variants of the virus, COVID-19 is spreading much more aggressively than its initial forms and the duration to bring it under control is getting longer. This is the problem the Turkish government has to resolve now.
On Monday, the Science Board will convene to make a comprehensive assessment on the next stages of the fight against the coronavirus. It will also review the vaccination process. On Tuesday, the Cabinet will meet under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and will review the already announced measures to be imposed during Ramadan.
Turkey had already decided to shut down restaurants and cafés throughout Ramadan and re-imposed weekend curfews across the country. It will be seen whether more actions will be taken by the government.
Apart from its detrimental impacts on the country’s healthcare system and people’s lives, the continued spread of the virus will potentially hurt Turkey’s tourism sector, one of the most important lifelines that supports the Turkish economy.
It is very unlikely that the European Union will lift the existing travel restrictions against Turkey in the coming period.
The news reports that Russia can reduce air travel to Turkey and impose a 14-day quarantine on those returning from Turkey are creating additional concerns. According to the Kremlin, during a phone conversation on April 9, President Erdoğan sought to assure Russian President Vladimir Putin that Turkey is taking all the necessary measures for the safety of the visiting foreigners.
It’s expected that Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca will hold meetings with their counterparts in the coming days to discuss the continued cooperation in the field of tourism and health, including the joint production of the Sputnik V vaccine.
As the past two months have painfully shown, any reckless move in tackling COVID-19 can lead to a more destructive situation in terms of both public health and social-economic balances. Turkey is now hoping to speedily control the process as of mid-May so that both internal and external tourism can bounce back this summer. Obviously, success in this depends on scientific decision-making.