Turkey is at a critical juncture in the pandemic, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned as the number of daily COVID-19 cases continue to increase, calling on people to observe social distancing and other anti-virus measures.
“While once the daily infections at 20,000 would be considered the tipping point, we now nearly have 30,000 cases and the death toll is at 260,” Koca wrote on Twitter, referring to 29,338 cases logged on Sept. 21, the highest figure since April 30.
The minister urged people to stay away from crowds and use face masks, while repeating his call for the public not to skip the shots against the coronavirus.
Despite the fast-tracked vaccination program, Turkey has seen a steep increase in infections which experts link to people’s negligent behavior.
As the cases rise so does the death toll from COVID-19, which started August. Experts say most of the severe cases in intensive care units and those, who have lost their lives, are unvaccinated people or people who have not been fully vaccinated.
People who have had at least two doses of a vaccine or recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months will no longer be considered at risk if they come into contact with an infected person, the Health Ministry announced Sept. 21.
The HES codes – the country’s coronavirus contact tracing system of people who come into contact with an infected person will remain “riskless,” but their interaction with a COVID-19 patient will be logged, the ministry said.
This will allow them to continue their daily lives with regular safety measures, including wearing masks and following social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
However, if they develop any symptoms, they must go for a PCR test on the same day.
If they remain asymptomatic, a test will be required on the fifth day after their contact with a virus patient.
This month millions of students returned to schools for in-person education, but authorities ask for a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination from teachers and also for certain public events.