Turkey to impose mandatory PCR tests for some sectors
Turkey will begin requiring negative COVID-19 test results and proofs of vaccination for some sectors, including from teachers as schools reopen next month and for domestic travel.
The government announced a set of new rules late on Aug. 19 as the country fights the coronavirus pandemic with a strategy focusing on its vaccination program.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the new requirements would be imposed for teachers, academics and those who attend social gatherings.
He announced mandatory tests for people attending mass events in theaters, cinemas and concert halls and for intercity bus travel and flights.
Expressing that Turkey is at a very good point in terms of its vaccine supply, Erdoğan said that the total number of vaccines administered exceeded 87 million, corresponding to more than the country’s entire population.
Turkey has administered some 87.6 million vaccines against COVID-19, only Sinovac’s CoronaVac and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, since launching a mass immunization campaign in January.
According to the Health Ministry, over 45.3 million people have received a first dose and more than 34.4 million are now fully vaccinated.
Pointing out that some in the country are hesitant about the vaccine, the president said that there is no other method of protection against the virus other than vaccination, noting that vaccination works are carried out on a voluntary basis.
Giving the good news that 33 provinces, including metropolises such as Ankara and İzmir, have exceeded the 75 percent threshold in vaccination rate, Erdoğan once again called on all citizens to be vaccinated immediately.
Erdoğan also warned about compliance with social distancing rules.
“Recently, it has been seen that the methods of greeting in our culture such as handshaking and hugging have increased. I ask the citizens to be patient about this for a while,” he noted.
Turkey confirmed 19,320 new infections and 216 coronavirus-related deaths on Aug. 19, while as many as 14,743 more patients recovered.
Sharing a chart of virus figures for the week from Aug. 7 to Aug. 13 on Twitter, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca stressed the need for people to strictly comply with all COVID-19 safety measures.
Koca also announced that PCR tests will be done for free at public hospitals.
According to the latest data, the number of cases per 100,000 people was 181.96 in Istanbul, home to nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s population, 199.55 in the capital Ankara, and 49.81 in the Aegean province of İzmir.