Harsher measures may be introduced as cases rise sharply in Turkey
Experts are proposing stricter measures to bring COVID-19 under control, with some even suggesting a full lockdown throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, as the number of daily cases surged to almost 55,000, the highest daily count in the country since the start of the pandemic, on April 7.
“The uptick of the spread continues. Weekend lockdowns will not be sufficient to put out the fire,” said Tufak Tükek, the dean of Istanbul University’s medical school.
According to Osman Müftüoğlu, another medical expert, the upcoming days will be especially challenging because the spread of the virus “inside houses” has accelerated. The virus has started spreading rapidly between family members inside their houses, he said.
“Complacency on public transport has also triggered the rise in cases,” warned Müftüoğlu, adding that rotating shifts with fewer people at once in the office should be considered as cases have been surging in workplaces too.
A total of 54,740 cases, including 2,203 symptomatic patients, were registered on April 7 across the country, taking the total number of cases in the country since the pandemic began past 3.63 million, according to the Health Ministry.
Faruk Aydın, a professor from Karadeniz Technical University in the Black Sea province of Trabzon, proposed a full lockdown during Ramadan, when the government had planned shutting down restaurants and cafes during weekdays.
He stressed it would be the best option because “worse days are ahead.”
Ramadan will begin on April 13 and last until May 12.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on April 7 stressed on Ramadan, saying the country wanted a significant drop in the number of coronavirus cases by the end of the month, when practicing Muslims will fast.
“We aim to give our country a break during Ramadan and prepare it for better days after Eid [al-Fitr],” he said at the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial heads’ meeting in Ankara.
Mehmet Ceyhan, a professor of medicine from Ankara’s Hacettepe University, warned the public against the variant of the coronavirus, which makes up a majority of the current cases.
He urged the government to extend a 10-day period of social isolation for those travelling to Turkey from abroad and repeated calls for members of the public to strictly adhere to the face mask and social distancing rules.
Ceyhan warned that the virus was spreading fast among children, with the highest surges being seen among those aged between the ages zero and nine, pointing to the variant of the virus behind this acceleration.
Turkish medical experts are also revising symptoms of COVID-19, with newer indicators of the disease becoming: Sneezing, shivering, loss of appetite and a runny nose.
Experts also expect the daily number of cases to further rise in the coming weeks, probably hitting nearly 70,000.
Aydın said the number of infections were doubling up during the virus’ incubation periods. After March 1, the number of cases rapidly rose from 10,000 daily to 20,000 in the span of a single incubation period. The number of infections multiplied to 40,000 in the next incubation period.
“Now [we are in the] third incubation period and the number could reach up to 70,000,” he noted.
Istanbul, the city that hosts Turkey’s largest population, is of particular worry for experts.
The Association of the Family Physicians in Istanbul said the number of the “red zones,” symbolizing the highly risky areas, was surging.
“Bağcılar, Gaziosmanpaşa and Bahçelievler are the top three districts where the number of cases increased,” Mustafa Tamur, the deputy chair of the association, told daily Milliyet on April 8.
Even on the Princes’ Islands, which has the fewest cases in comparison to the city, the rate skyrocketed by 211 percent.
On April 7, the nationwide death toll increased by 276 to reach 32,943.
As many as 35,503 more patients won the battle against the disease, raising the number of recoveries to nearly 3.2 million.
Turkey has administered over 17.96 million vaccine jabs since it began a mass vaccination campaign on Jan. 14, according to official figures.
More than 10.55 million people have received their first doses, while second doses have been given to over 7.41 million people.