Turkey ramps up efforts to curb rising virus figures
Turkey has issued a new circular and regulations in a bid to slow down the worrying spread of the novel coronavirus after new cases jumped above 1,000 for the first time in three weeks, as two thirds of Ankara’s intensive care units have already been occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The Interior Ministry issued a circular late Aug. 4 rolling out new inspection and enforcement rules in 81 provinces hours after the Health Ministry announced that the number of new infection cases hit 1,083, around 10 percent increase in a single day.
This reflects a “severe” rise after a four-day holiday weekend which observed crowds flocking to the beaches and resorts without obeying social distancing, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter, urging Turks to avoid unnecessary contact so that their vacations do not bear grave consequences. New cases had hovered just below 1,000 since July 13.
Citing the necessity of the full implementation of the rules concerning social distancing and hygiene for slowing down the spread of the virus, the ministry suggested the beginning of a new era in which all the precautions will be re-shaped in line with the new priorities such as early diagnosis, self-isolation and treatment at home.
According to the circular, daily quarantine inspections will be launched whether those who have to fulfill seven-day self-isolation at their homes are obeying the rules through frequent visits by the law enforcement.
Committees will be established by the deputy governors and district governors in all cities to trace the spread of the virus and monitor the changes in the number of patients and patients in grave conditions as well as those in isolation.
The circular underlines the need to wear a mask, keeping social distance and hygiene as the most important measures particularly in social events like weddings, funerals and other large gatherings.
Kırıkkale to be pilot city
According to the circular, Kırıkkale, a Central Anatolian province just an hour’s drive from Ankara, will pilot a new call center that checks complaints about citizens ignoring face masks and other rules, and for a “safe area” rewards system for business that abide by them, the ministry said.
A database will also be set to record all the inspected workplaces, public transportation vehicles, taxis and people.
Alarm bells ringing for Ankara
Meanwhile, in line with a rise in the number of cases in Ankara, the capital city’s provincial Science Board has taken new measures to keep the hospitals and other health institutions in full efficiency.
According to decisions taken by the board on late July, the hospitals will have to spare at least half of their beds to the COVID-19 patients and will delay non-urgent operations, kicking concerns over whether the healthcare system in Ankara is on the verge of collapse.
In a statement made by the Ankara Provincial Health Directorate on Aug. 4, it was stated that it is incompatible to conclude from the ongoing preparations that there is an explosion in caseloads in Ankara and the health infrastructure was collapsing.
In the statement it is emphasized that the expectations of a second wave were expressed by experts in the following months and said “As of today, the hospital bed occupancy rate is 50 percent and the intensive care bed occupancy rate is 63 percent. The pandemic is still under control in our city.”
Nation-wide inspection today
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu tweeted that his ministry will execute a nation-wide inspection in order to monitor the implementation of the measures taken against COVID-19.
“It will be our largest inspection ever done in Turkey,” he said.