Virus outlook in Turkey worsens within a week

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The COVID-19 outbreak worsened within a week across Turkey, leaving only one province in the low-risk category.

According to the weekly cases’ data for March 13 and March 19, the number of provinces classified as high-risk increased to 39 from the previous week’s 25.

The southeastern province of Şırnak was the only low-risk province left on the weekly map, which shows COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca posted on Twitter last week. The number of cases per 100,000 people was eight in Şırnak, rising from two a week earlier.

On the map covering March 6 and March 12 there were four provinces marked “blue” or low-risk provinces.

For comparison, according to the latest statistics, the rate was over 251 in Istanbul, up from 178 in the previous week, and 107 in the capital Ankara from 68, and 111 in the western İzmir province from 78.

“We are going through one of the most difficult episodes of the outbreak, which is moving towards a third wave,” Prof Sema Kultufan Turan from the Health Ministry’s Science Board told daily Hürriyet.

Provinces must ramp up measures against the virus otherwise blanket restrictions will become inevitable, she warned.

Professor Levent Akın, another member of the board, pointed that the virus variants are spreading very fast.

Local officials, particularly in “red” or very-high-risk provinces, should take all the necessary actions when necessary, “such as lockdowns on weekends, or measures for restaurants and curbs for public gatherings, including funerals.”

Turkey three weeks ago moved to the controlled normalization phase, lifting weekend lockdowns in low- and medium-risk provinces while they were eased in the high- and very-high-risk provinces. Weeknight curfews, however, remain in place in all 81 provinces. Restaurants and cafes have been allowed to open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 50 percent capacity.

Some 23,000 people violated the curfews and lockdown between March 15 and March 22 across the country, the Interior Ministry said on March 22.

On March 19, nearly 92,000 officials carried out nationwide inspections to see if businesses were complying with the anti-virus measures, the ministry said in a separate statement.

As part of the checks, 81,000 restaurants and other eateries, nearly 67,000 shopping centers, supermarkets, grocery stores, butcher shops as well as 26,000 inner-city public transport vehicles were inspected.

Hurriyet Daily News

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