Virus cases decline due to restrictions, says health minister

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COVID-19 cases in Turkey declined thanks to the restrictions the government imposed to bring the outbreak under control, the health minister has said, urging the public to stick to anti-virus rules as the number of daily infections in the country has dipped below 10,000.

“The number of cases fell below 10,000 for the first time after a long period. Even though the cases declined much more than expected, which was due to the restrictions and the drop in demand for [the virus] tests, we can make this [decline] permanent if we work together,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter on Jan. 3.

Weeknight curfews and full lockdowns on weekends have been in effect for some time.

The government also imposed an 80-hour curfew, which lasted from 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2020, until 5 a.m. on Jan. 4 as part of measures to curb the spread of the disease.

The first full weekend lockdown was between Dec. 4 and Dec. 7, 2020.

Turkey has further tightened measures after the emergence of a new and more contagious variant of COVID-19.

It has suspended entries from the U.K after detecting 15 cases of the new virus strain in travelers from Britain.

Turkey on Dec. 30 started to require air, land, and sea passengers arriving in the country from abroad to submit negative PCR novel coronavirus test results sampled a maximum of 72 hours prior to their flight.

Weeknight curfews and weekend lockdowns will remain in place until further notice from the government.

The restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 are expected to have a significant favorable impact on the course of the outbreak, said Professor Mustafa Necmi İlhan, the dean of Gazi University Medical School and a member of the Health Ministry’s Social Sciences Board.

“Despite some violations, the public has largely followed the rules. The positive effects of the weeknight curfews and weekend lockdowns will become even more visible after the restrictions imposed last week,” he said.

“We expect a significant decline [in cases],” he added.

İlhan predicted that the impact of the restrictions will be seen within two weeks.

The Interior Ministry announced on Jan. 4 that a total of 51,152 people violated the weekday evening curfews and the 80-hour lockdown between Dec. 28, 2020, and Jan. 4.

Hurriyet Daily News

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