Turkey tightens measures amid cases of virus variant

Turkey tightens measures amid cases of virus variant

Turkey tightens measures amid cases of virus variant

Turkey has suspended entries from the U.K after detecting 15 cases of a new and more contagious variant of COVID-19 in travelers from Britain.

Turkey on Dec. 30 started to require air, land, and sea passengers arriving in the country from abroad to submit negative PCR novel coronavirus test results sampled a maximum of 72 hours prior to their flight in the face the coronavirus variant.

“In the investigations made due to the mutation originating from the UK, mutated viruses were detected in 15 people who entered the country from the U.K. and the required measures have been adopted,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter on Jan. 1.

“Those 15 people have been isolated, and their contracts have been put under quarantine,” Koca said.

Two of those identified with the new variant are under quarantine at their homes in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, while another person has been transferred from his home to a dormitory to be isolated in the western province of Balıkesir, Demirören News Agency reported.

The minister also noted that no other cases of the COVID-19 variant have been detected in nationwide regular screenings.

There has been no evidence so far the new variant of the coronavirus is more likely to cause severe disease or mortality, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

Even before the discovery of the more contagious variant of the virus, Turkey ramped up measures to bring COVID-19 under control, including weeknight curfews and full lockdown on weekends.

Ever-stricter restrictions were imposed last week in the runup to the New Year’s Eve. A nationwide lockdown which lasted from 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 5 a.m. Jan. 4 was in place, which was designed particularly to prevent large gatherings for New Year celebrations. The authorities banned all New Year celebrations at hotels and accommodation facilities as well as private villas, which apparently people had leased ahead of the New Year’s Eve for celebrations.

The number of active patients and the number of patients in critical condition continue to decline, said Koca in a separate tweet, urging people to follow safety measures until the imminent mass inoculation drive kicks off and produces results.

Turkey already received the first batch of 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from China last week. The content of the shipments will be examined for 14 days at local laboratories before the country rolls out its massive inoculation drive starting with health care workers and the most vulnerable.