Transmission rate below 1 in Turkey, but measures should continue: Experts
Meltem Özgenç - ANKARA
The members of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Science Board have announced that the rate of transmission up to 5 in the world has fallen below 1 in Turkey, while stressing on the necessity to carry on with the measures.
“Staying at home, following the social distancing rule, wearing a protective mask and abiding by the other measures have reduced the transmission rate. I can tell you now this figure will drop to below 1,” Ateş Kara, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and member of the Scientific Board, told Hürriyet.
Turkey has initiated a partial normalization process as the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic has proven effective and a decline in the number of new infections and deaths is reflected in the figures.
Following the success in the statistics, barbers, hairdressers, shopping malls and some stores opened on May 11 as part of the first phase of the process.
“If the rate was above 1, then the number of the new cases would increase and the spread of the virus would continue,” Kara said.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, one individual spread the virus to five people all around the world. When we closed schools, the rate [in Turkey] was down to 3. When the elderly above 65, children and teenagers under 20 stayed home, it dropped to 2,” he noted explaining correlation between the country’s measures and the transmission rate.
Mehmet Ceyhan, another infection expert and Science Board member, said that the transmission rate of 1.1 means that the number of cases started to increase even if it is a slight increase, and that this increase is also happening in Germany.
“They [Germany] began to step back from normal life after a small increase. [However] in Turkey, as the rate started to drop below 1, controlled normalization steps began to be taken. This situation [normally] is evaluated for three days and the average of three days is taken. It is compared with the average of other three-day periods,” Ceyhan said.
Ceyhan said that if there is an increase in the transmission rate, they will investigate and try to find out where the increase occurred and take measures accordingly.
“For example, the transmission rate in South Korea was almost zero. They took normalization steps and opened bars. Then they found that one [infected] person in a bar infected 17 people. That is why not all measures are removed at once,” Ceyhan noted.
Another member of the board, Tevfik Özlü, said that the transmission rate below 1 is an indication that the pandemic has been mitigated.
“It is very important that the transmission in society has decreased compared to the past. We will return to social life as much as possible, but we will also implement the measures tightly,” Özlü said.
Another doctor on the board, İlhami Çelik stressed that this rate is perceived as a good step toward transition to normalization.
“For this reason, we must continue our lives by obeying the measures and that we don’t loosen precautions,” Çelik added.