Virus cases on the decline in Turkey’s major provinces, says health minister

Virus cases on the decline in Turkey’s major provinces, says health minister

Virus cases on the decline in Turkey’s major provinces, says health minister

The daily number of reported COVID-19 cases has declined in Turkey’s large provinces, including Istanbul and the capital Ankara, the country’s health minister has said, with experts voicing optimism that infections will drop faster thanks to restrictions.

“Istanbul, İzmir and Kocaeli have seen a 30 percent decline in the number of daily virus cases while the drop in Ankara was 40 percent,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter, warning that hospitals’ intensive care units are still struggling to handle caseloads.

Experts from the Health Ministry’s Science Board agreed that the restrictions the government introduced, including weeknight curfews and full lockdowns on weekends as well as limiting the operations of restaurants only to delivery and takeaway services, appear to have started paying off.

The full weekend lockdown lasts from at 9 p.m on Fridays to 5 a.m on Mondays while weekday curfews come into force between 9 p.m and 5 a.m.

“The daily cases are declining in Istanbul and Ankara, but the full impact of the measures is still yet be seen,” Professor Hasan Tezer from the board told daily Hürriyet.

“The effects of the restrictions will be felt this week,” Tezer added, noting that the daily number of coronavirus cases are hovering around 30,000 and it still takes a long time for patients to be discharged from intensive care units.

Tezer believes that the number of virus cases will decline faster in the period ahead but added that the decline in the number of severe patients will be relatively slower.

“The decline in cases will also be slower in Anatolian provinces [compared to larger cities],” he said.

Some impacts of the restrictions have been already observed, but it is yet to be seen in the coming days if those measures are enough [to take the spread of the virus under control], according to Professor Tevfik Özlü, from the Science Board.

“I think, the restrictions will show their full effect by the end of the year,” Özlü told the daily.

He pointed out that the virus cases generally rose fast in large provinces and the disease spread to Anatolian provinces. “The course of decline in COVID-19 infections will follow a similar pattern,” Özlü said.

It is not likely to rid the pandemic with very strict measures in a very short period of time in such a large country, said Professor Deniz Çalışkan.

“We are seeing the impacts of the gradual transition. In some cities the number of daily cases is flattening while it has declined in others. The outbreak conditions wary from city to city and between the districts in one city,” she added.