Second wave of outbreak in Turkey not expected: Minister
Under the current circumstances, a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak is not expected in Turkey thanks to people’s cautious attitude towards measures in place to slow the disease, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said.
“As of June 1, Turkey shifted to the normalization phase, but we need to continue to stick to the rules because risks are still present. We have to remember that we have not yet returned to a normal life, but we are trying to do so in a planned manner,” Koca said on June 3, following a meeting with the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Science Board.
This week, the country began easing measures against COVID-19, with domestic flights and inter-city travel resuming and restaurants, cafes, parks, and gyms reopening.
Koca stressed that the new phase amid the pandemic has its own challenges even though the number of new daily virus cases has been declining to around 1,000 and the number of patients in intensive care units has been in decline over the past three weeks.
“The first challenge is the belief that the outbreak is over. Second, the success in the fight against the disease may cause people to forget how serious COVID-19 is. The third challenge is that people, who are in risk groups, may show complacent attitude toward the measures they need to heed. Those challenges put us on a test,” the minister explained.
He reiterated that people have to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing and said that risks will remain until the last virus case is reported.
“I am fully confident that we will win this war. The shore has been seen, but we are still navigating through troubled waters,” Koca said.
When asked whether a curfew will be imposed this weekend and if the restrictions of movements of those aged over 65 and under 18 will continue, and what the Science Board’s views on those issues are, Koca reminded that the lockdown was last declared for 15 provinces.
“Curfews could be re-imposed in certain provinces depending on the number of cases. Such a decision could be taken if needed. The Science Board’s advice was along this line,” the minister responded.
As to the restrictions for elderly people and youth, Koca noted that those curbs concern as much as 30 million people.
Koca noted that the matter was discussed as the board meeting. “The board’s approach is that it would be better if the curb is further relaxed and elderly citizens are allowed to leave their homes more often,” he said.
The minister added that the board’s recommendation could be discussed at the cabinet meeting next week.
Under the current regulations, those aged over 65 can go out on Sundays while children under aged 18 can venture outside on Wednesdays and Fridays.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Turkey has exceeded 166,000, with more than 4,600 deaths from the disease.
More than 130,000 patients have recovered from COVID-19 so far and a little more than 600 people are receiving treatment in intensive care units.
Turkey has conducted nearly 2.2 million tests to date with more than 52,000 tests on June 3 alone.