Virus cases are likely to increase, warns health minister
The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading faster than the other strains, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said, adding that the number of virus cases in Turkey is expected to increase.
The country’s Health Ministry said on Dec. 27 that 42 cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in six provinces, including 30 in Istanbul, six in the western province of İzmir, one each in the southeastern provinces of Şırnak and Diyarbakır, and two each in the Central Anatolian provinces of Kütahya and Isparta.
Turkey reported the first six cases of Omicron on Dec. 11 and last week Koca said that more than 10 percent of the infections were caused by the new variant.
Meanwhile, infections rose nearly 30 percent on Dec. 27 to 26,099 from 20,138 on Dec. 26, data from the Health Ministry showed. The daily virus cases had been around 20,000 throughout most of December, declining from about 30,000 daily infections in the previous month.
In a tweet on Dec. 29, Koca reiterated that the Omicron variant does not increase hospitalizations. “You must be careful and get your booster shot,” the minister said.
The pace of the vaccination drive appeared to gain some momentum after Turkey shortened the booster shot interval to three months from the previous six months.
For instance, more than 800,000 doses of the jab were given between Dec. 20 and Dec. 22, even though a little more than 700,000 doses were administered in the following couple of days.
Well over 129 million doses of the vaccine have been given in Turkey since the jab drive was launched in January. Nearly 18 million people have received their third doses while around 57 million people have been double jabbed.
Moreover, some 57 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine against COVID-19.