Virus cases on decline in Istanbul, says Turkish health minister

Virus cases on decline in Istanbul, says Turkish health minister

Virus cases on decline in Istanbul, says Turkish health minister

The number of COVID-19 cases has started to decline in Istanbul, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, while warning that infections are rising in some Anatolian provinces.

“Thanks to the efforts made and measures taken over the past one month, the number of cases [in Istanbul] dropped 25 percent this week,” Koca wrote on Twitter on Dec. 5.

Despite the decline in the number of cases, burden stemming from the outbreak on the city’s hospitals and intensive care units remain heavy, he added.

The minister also warned that COVID-19 infections skyrocketed 125 percent and 50 percent in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana over a week, respectively.

The number of virus cases leapt 50 percent in the southern Mersin province and in the northern Kastamonu province, while the northern Samsun province saw an increase of 35 percent over the same period, according to Koca.

“Adana, Hatay, Mersin and Samsun are at high risk,” Koca said following a meeting with local officials from those provinces.

“Risks are at the gate. Let’s not give in to our habits. Let’s help health care workers by more strictly adhering to the measures. We can win this standing together,” he wrote on Twitter.

The occupancy rates in the intensive care units at the hospitals in those provinces are running high, the minister stressed.

According to Koca, the ICU occupancy rate stood at 86 percent in Hatay, 81 percent in Samsun, 79 percent in Adana, 74 percent in Mersin and 74 percent in Kastamonu.

The ICU occupancy rate across Turkey’s hospitals was nearly 72 percent with overall hospital bed occupancy rate standing at 56 percent, data from the Health Ministry showed.

In the face of a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, Turkey last week imposed tighter measures, including weeknight curfews and full lockdown on weekends to slow the spread of the virus.

“The curfews only aim to protect public health. All of us should do our part and apply our own restrictions,” Koca said, urging people to stay away from closed and crowded areas.