Virus cases may start to decline in May, say experts
After the country moved to what officials dub the “controlled normalization” phase, a spike in infections was not unexpected, experts told daily Hürriyet.
They, however, noted that even though COVID-19 cases have been on the rise, there have not been any significant increases in the number of people admitted to intensive care units or in the number of intubated patients.
Experts argue that the outbreak situation could improve in the country in May as people will start to spend more time in open spaces instead of closed areas due to warmer weather, they said, adding that people gathering in outdoor venues would have to adhere to social distancing rules.
The pandemic outlook may further improve in summer if the vaccination drive gathers momentum by then, according to experts.
Turkey launched its four-stage inoculation program on Jan. 14.
To date, more than 11 million doses of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine have been administered. Nearly 8 million people have received the first dose of the injection while over 3.3 million people have received both doses. The vaccine is administered in two doses, 28 days apart.
Turkey aims to vaccinate 50 million people against COVID-19 by autumn, Health Minister Fahret-tin Koca said last week.
“If 50 million of the population is inoculated before autumn, the pandemic will no longer be a health crisis,” Koca said.
Public support for normalization
Under the controlled normalization plan, which was rolled out two weeks ago, the government has lifted weekend lockdowns in low- and medium-risk provinces and eased them in the high- and very-high-risk provinces.
Weeknight curfews still remain in place in 81 provinces of the country.
Restaurants and cafes are now serving customers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 50 percent capacity in all provinces except for very-high-risk cities.
Some 50 percent of the population voiced support for the controlled normalization, according to a recent survey carried out by Ipsos.
Nearly 37 percent of those polled said they disapproved of the move.
Some 65 percent approved the government decision to keep weeknight curfews in place, the survey also found.
According to the study, 23 percent of the public said restaurants and cafes should not have reopened, while up to 56 percent voiced support for the reopening of eateries.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said that a total of 25,372 people violated weeknight curfews and weekend lockdowns between March 8 and March 15.