Alarming pandemic signs
The government charted a multi-color map, with yellows, oranges, reds and charming blues. Why was blue the color of “safe region” and red was depicting, like fire, “the deadly consequences of pandemic?” Whatever the ultimate reason behind those who prepared the first map of Turkey was, novice people like this writer believed finally the Turkish state had decided to follow a scaled and programmed action against the pandemic. Alas, we were wrong.
Although originally it was stressed that every two weeks, or even at a shorter period, the colors of the map would change according to the recorded pandemic statistics of localities, and thus would change the measures applied. If a region becomes blue, limited measures such as wearing mask outside would still be required, but there would not be weekend restrictions, while provinces that turned from blue to yellow, orange or red, depending on their new color, would apply curbs accordingly.
Ankara was yellow, a low-risk area, when this colored map application started in the first week of March. Istanbul, like İzmir; it was in the high-risk orange group of cities. Most of Turkey’s southeastern regions were the least risky and blue, while most of the Black Sea region, the Central Anatolian province of Konya, the northwestern province of Balıkesir, the northwestern province of Edirne, the southwestern province of Burdur and the southeastern province of Adıyaman were all in the high-risk category, thus were red. Accordingly pandemic measures were applied, shows opened, restaurants in red cities continued the “home delivery only” practice while in the yellow and orange cities, with varying degrees of occupancy, were allowed to operate.
There was more liberty for cafes and restaurants in the southeastern blue cities, as well as in the western province of Uşak, the sole blue in the western part of Turkey. No one bothered regarding why the southeast was blue? Was it because there were not sufficient tests, or for some miraculous reasons the virus preferred to bypass those areas?
Weeks passed by, figures changed, so should have the colors of the cities changed as the ratio of contaminated citizens rose dramatically by almost fourfold – as reflected in the overall figures released by the Health Ministry. Deficiencies in taking measures, however, not only pushed in few weeks’ time the number of daily infections, but it skyrocketed to an alarming level to over 25,000.
Families want primary and secondary schools to remain as much as open, doctors warn of the high risk, while the Education Ministry is pressuring schools to complete examinations by the end of the first week of April before schools might be placed once again on complete or scaled e-learning. Universities have been trying to open or keep open physical education for at least non-social branches. Some extraordinary universities, such as those medical ones, remained open all throughout the pandemic and performed extraordinarily. Yet, they are tired, very much like the hospital doctors, and there is no hope that there might be a miraculous development to end the pandemic. One hope, vaccination, has proved to be a very difficult task particularly because of supply difficulties.
What to do now? Obviously, Turkey, like most other countries, has very limited options other than making a return to a full or partial lockdown.