Pandemic situation appears to be stable in Turkey, says health minister
The pandemic outlook has not changed significantly in Turkey and this course of COVID-19 makes it easier to bring the disease under control, the country’s Health Minister has said.
The number of daily coronavirus infections, which climbed to record highs in April but declined to around 5,000, has remained below 30,000 since mid-October.
“We pay more attention to adhere to the [anti-virus] measures, we may get much better results in terms of the number of cases. Vaccination is the top priority. Get your shots on time,” Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Nov. 28.
The minister’s comments came amid growing concerns in the world over a new COVID-19 strain, Omicron.
Koca over the weekend said no cases of Omicron had been found in Turkey, noting that that the Delta variant was the dominant strain in the country.
However, as a precaution, Turkey immediately imposed a travel ban on Nov. 26 on five African nations, including Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, experts are stressing the need to speed up the pace of vaccinations that have slowed after this summer.
“Some people were vaccinated [against COVID-19] six months ago and they have now become vulnerable. We have not yet reached the desired level in vaccinations,” said Professor Faruk Aydın, from Karadeniz Technical University’s medical school.
Aydın made a stark warning that if the number of vaccinated people increased within a month, the COVID-19 cases could double to around 40,000 a day.
Professor Zafer Kurugöl, an infectious diseases expert at Ege University Medical School, echoed his colleague’s concern, cautioning against a possible spike in the cases in the coming months, also citing risks from the Omicron variant.
“The pandemic is continuing, and it is very highly likely that a new wave of COVID-19 may hit our country in December or January in 2022,” Kurugöl said.
He noted that people in Turkey appear to be behaving like the pandemic is over. “However, around 200 patients die each day from the disease…The public is less careful about wearing face masks. We have the weapons against COVID-19: Masks, social distancing and personal hygiene.”
Kurugöl is hopeful that the jab drive can gather momentum once the locally-developed vaccine, Turkovac, starts to be administered.