Two years since first COVID case reported in Turkey
With curfews and lockdowns imposed, schools closed for nearly 18 months, businesses forced to lock their doors and travel bans giving a serious blow to the tourism sector, the battle against the pandemic has not been easy.
Protective face masks and social distancing became part of Turks’ daily lives.
The pandemic also hit the country’s large tourism industry, which started to show signs of rebounding last year.
The number of daily cases fluctuated widely over the past two years. The number of coronavirus cases quickly climbed to above 10,000 in mid-April 2020 and remained at around 2,000 in the summer months of this year.
But toward the end of 2020, the number of daily infections was above 30,000 and the outlook became even gloomier in the following year as the number surpassed the 60,000-mark in April 2021.
In the wake of the spike in cases, the government introduced sweeping restrictions, which yielded results, and daily infections declined to around 5,000 in the summer.
In February this year, Turkey experienced yet another surge in cases due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The rate of infections climbed to levels never seen before, hitting more than 100,000 cases.
Experts, however, voiced confidence that the pandemic situation would improve after getting worse. Indeed, cases started to decline, dropping below the 60,000-mark in early March.
Data from the Health Ministry show that since March 4, the number of daily infections has remained under 40,000.
In a significant move this month, the government scrapped the outdoor mask mandate, which was introduced immediately after COVID-19 was first detected in the country.
The vaccination drive has been the key ground in Turkey’s fight against the deadly virus.
The country rolled out its inoculation drive in January last year, starting with health care workers and the elderly. The scope of the jab drive gradually expanded in the following months to cover other age groups.
Turkey first started to use the inactivated vaccine developed by the Chinese company Sinovac and later introduced Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA jab.
In December last year, the country added locally developed inactivated vaccine Turkovac to its arsenal of vaccines, making it one of the few nations in the world using homegrown jab against COVID-19.