Schools will not close again, says Health Minister Koca

Schools will not close again, says Health Minister Koca

Schools will not close again, says Health Minister Koca

Turkey’s Science Board is not weighing closing schools as an option, the country’s health minister has said, in response to a recent comment by a member of the board who suggested that in-class education may be suspended if virus cases increase.

“I came across a piece of news which mentioned the possibility of the closure of schools. Such a move is not on the board’s agenda. The statement by one of the board members emphasizing the importance of vaccination was misinterpreted,” Koca wrote on Twitter on Nov. 1.

Turkey reopened schools for face-to-face education for 18 million students and over 1 million teachers on Sept. 6 after an 18-month break under very strict rules. 

Since in-class education resumed, Koca has repeatedly said they would not close schools again. 
Last week, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) European branch called for schools to stay open, with appropriate prevention and response measures in place even though the region reported four consecutive weeks of growing COVID-19 transmission, the only WHO region to do so.

“Last year’s widespread school closures, disrupting the education of millions of children and adolescents, did more harm than good, especially to children’s mental and social well-being,” WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Henri P. Kluge said. 

“We can’t repeat the same mistakes.”

Last week, Professor Alper Şener from the Health Ministry’s Science Board said that the daily number of virus cases appears to have plateaued at around 30,000 but if they climb to 60,000 or 70,000, some measures, including lockdowns and closing schools, could be imposed.

The Science Board, made up of experts, advises the government on the pandemic

Third vaccine shots

In a separate tweet, Koca once again called on people to get their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for better protection, boasting Turkey’s own jab, Turkovac, as the good alternative for the booster shot. 
“If you are between 18 and 59 and healthy, you may choose Turkovac as the third dose [of the coronavirus vaccine],” the minister wrote. 

Koca reminded that there are still some 3 million people, who have been double jabbed but skipped the third dose. 

Phase 3 human trials of Turkey’s coronavirus vaccine candidate are still ongoing, and it has been given to volunteers as the third booster shot.

The country is using both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Chinese company Sinovac’s vaccines in its inoculation drive. 

To date, more than 11 million people have been given the third dose, while the number of total vaccines administered in Turkey has exceeded 116 million doses.

Fahrettin Koca,