Virus cases hovering at record highs despite stricter curbs
Turkey has been recording record numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past week even though the government has tightened some of the anti-virus measures.
In the previous surge in infections in November and December 2020, the daily cases were around and above 30,000 which prompted the officials to introduce strict measures, including weekend lockdowns. However, according to data from the Health Ministry, infections have well exceeded 40,000 since the start of April, even hitting a record high of 49,584 on April 6.
After the infections started to decline, the country eased measures in March.
However, in the face of the recent spike in the coronavirus cases, the government last week announced a tightening of restrictions, including the return of full weekend lockdowns in very-high-risk provinces. Curfews have also been tightened in other provinces.
The nationwide weekend curfews will be effective during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts on April 13.
Moreover, restaurants and cafes will only be allowed to provide take out services in Ramadan.
Many experts are linking the resurgence of COVID-19 cases to the variants of the coronavirus, blaming particularly the U.K. strain, which Health Minister Fahrettin Koca recently said was responsible for up to 75 percent of all cases.
Some experts also argue that people may have become more complacent after the vaccinations against the deadly virus began, ignoring basic rules such as social distancing or avoiding crowded places.
The country has administered nearly 18 million doses of the jab since Jan. 14, with over 10.4 million people having received the first dose. Some 7.4 million people have received both doses.
The daily cases are expected to increase further in the days to come, probably rising to 50,000 and 60,000 but they will decline later, according to experts.
To date, the virus has infected nearly 3.6 million people in Turkey while the death toll from the outbreak has neared 33,000.
There are some 2,500 COVID-19 patients in serious condition in the country’s hospitals and the occupancy rate in the intensive care units is 66.5 percent, data from the Health Ministry show.
Meanwhile, Koca rebuffed and condemned the criticism leveled against the ministry’s Science Board.
“We have separated the fight against the pandemic from politics since the beginning. We cannot accept aggressive insults, which overlook the painstaking work the board has carried out, directed at science people. Be respectful,” Koca wrote on Twitter.
His remarks came after Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the main opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP), criticized the Science Board during a speech at a party meeting on April 6.
“The Science Board is a joke. None of them [members of the Board] have anything to do with science. Do not call yourself the Science Board,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said.