Turkish government currently not mulling extending lockdown
Turkey is not considering extending a current 17-day lockdown, top government officials have said, stressing that any decision on restrictions will be data-sensitive.
“The extension of the ongoing lockdown to cover the May 19 [Youth and Sports Day holiday] is not currently on our agenda,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said in an interview with private broadcaster NTV on May 6.
Oktay noted that the cabinet is receiving the outbreak-related data and a final decision is made following the assessment of those numbers.
The vice president was responding to a question on whether the government will prolong the current lockdown if the number of daily cases will not drop to 5,000 as targeted.
Echoing Oktay, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also said that an extended lockdown seems unlikely.
“As of today, taking any action to stretch the lockdown to cover May 19 is not under consideration,” Soylu said in televised comments on May 6.
Like Oktay, Soylu stressed that the figures to come out on May 17 will set the course to be taken going forward.
“We will proceed according to the decisions the cabinet and [the Health Ministry’s] Science Board take,” the minister said.
Soylu noted that the number of daily infections were hovering at around 63,000 before the country imposed a partial lockdown.
“After the measures were introduced, daily infections first declined to around 29,000 and 30,000 and nowadays further came down to around 24,000. Those numbers testify that we are on the right path,” the minister said.
The government announced a full lockdown for April 29 and May 17 as the daily virus cases increased to record highs, climbing above 60,000 in mid-April.
Data from the Health Ministry show that daily infections started to decline after April 21. They first dropped below 40,000 and the country logged 22,388 cases on May 7.
To date, COVID-19 has infected more than 4.9 million people, with the death toll from the pandemic surpassing 42,000.
Meanwhile, new restrictions on supermarket sales took effect on May 7. The government earlier this week announced that supermarkets will only be allowed to sell essential items, such as food and hygiene materials. The decision aimed at preventing crowds at supermarkets, the Interior Ministry explained.
However, marketplaces will be open this and next Saturday but vendors, likewise, will sell only fruits and vegetables.
On a related note, more than 20 percent of the population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Turkey’s 36 provinces, according to the Health Ministry data.
In Istanbul, which has a population of nearly 16 million, 15.7 percent of the residents have been given at least one dose of the jab, while the corresponding figures for Ankara and İzmir, the country’s third largest city, are 20.6 percent and 22.3 percent, respectively.
Turkey has administered nearly 25 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine since it began inoculations on Jan. 14. Over 14 million people have received the first dose of the jab while more than 10.2 million people have been given both doses.
On the ongoing discussion over patent waiver, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it was a public health matter, stressing, “An understanding of ‘We produced this, we will not give it to anyone’ is a wrong approach in a subject related to human health.”
Science is the common property of humankind, Erdoğan stressed, recalling that Turkey is carrying out its own researches for a national vaccine against COVID-19. “We will not use them only in Turkey, but will share with the rest of the world,” he said, informing the Turkish jabs will be ready to use in September or October this year.