Number of daily virus cases stuck at certain level, says expert

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The number of daily coronavirus cases in Turkey appears to be stuck at a certain level and is not coming down, an expert has said, noting that the virus variants may not be the reason behind this situation.

“Due to the COVID-19-related restrictions, Turkey is registering daily cases between 6,000 to 8,000. We are stuck at this level and cannot bring the number of daily infections down,” said Prof. Dr. Bülent Ertuğrul, an expert in infectious diseases.

Turkey is stepping into a “controlled outbreak” phase, he added.

Ertuğrul, however, suggested that the virus variants are not yet widespread in Turkey. “Otherwise, the daily number of cases should have been much higher. The virus variants are not the likely reason behind the rise in infections in certain provinces.”

Recently, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the virus variants had been detected in 37 provinces of the country, without providing other details.

The minister, however, dismissed the suggestions that the high infection rates in certain provinces in the Black Sea region are related to those variants, but that rather other factors are playing a role, such as social events; weddings and funerals.

Yaşar Kibar Güven, the head of the local medical association and from Karadeniz Technical University’s medical school in Trabzon, which has one of the highest infection rates in the country, noted that mobility between provinces and between provinces and villages in the Black Sea is high.

“People travel to villages on Fridays before the lockdowns begin to spend the weekends there. People act rather more complacent in villages and stop using face masks. They live in a single house where keeping social distancing is difficult. We see the impact of those visits later in the provinces once they return from villages,” Güven explained.

The government is planning to gradually ease restrictions, including curfews and lockdowns starting in March with a province-based approach as the country’s vaccination drive continues.

Nearly 6.8 million doses of the coronavirus jab have been administered since the inoculations against COVID-19 began on Jan. 14. Some 6 million people received the first dose of the injection while more than 1 million people have got the second dose of the vaccine.

The family health clinics are leading the vaccination drive, administering most of the shots while private and public hospital are lagging behind.

“Those centers shoulder much of the burden, accounting for 70 percent of 400,000 vaccines administered during regular office hours. However, private and public hospital across the country administer only 2,000 shots between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.,” Hacı Yusuf Eryazğan from the Federation of Family Physicians (AHEF) told daily Milliyet.

Hurriyet Daily News

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