Experts warn of autumn COVID-19 surge in Türkiye | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah

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Wearing protective masks became a rare habit among the Turkish public after the mask mandate was lifted, in the most visible sign of a decline in coronavirus cases. But the public might need them again, experts say, when the autumn, a usual high time for a surge in cases, arrives.
After a lull in the number of cases in the spring, the government gradually lifted all restrictions related to the pandemic but in the past few weeks, cases started climbing again, reaching more than 50,000 at times. Fatalities also rose, though not to levels seen in the past two years. The latest weekly statistics between July 25 and Aug. 1 show 406,322 cases in that period and 337 fatalities.
Professor Afşin Emre Kayıpmaz, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says COVID-19 may spread again in autumn and winter, at a time when schools will be open and more people would spend time indoors, unlike summer when social distancing and spending time outdoors is easier. Kayıpmaz says people should adhere to their vaccination schedule and should not neglect booster shots.
Kayıpmaz noted that mobility during the lengthy Qurban Bayram (Eid al-Adha) holiday last month triggered an increase in the number of cases. Though masks are no longer mandatory after the recommendation of the board, Kayıpmaz says people are advised to wear them in crowded, enclosed spaces, like mass transportation vehicles, elevators and hospitals.
He says vaccination remains the best protection against COVID-19 and that Türkiye offers three vaccines, including locally developed Turkovac. “People not vaccinated at all or those who missed booster shots should absolutely be inoculated. It is particularly important for people at the age of 50 and above and people with chronic illnesses or weak immunity,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday. He noted that it was also important for people with symptoms to isolate themselves and undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. He also highlighted that most people who die or end up in intensive care due to coronavirus nowadays are elderly or have other diseases. However, he added that for those who do not need hospitalization, the infection can be “damaging” for a few days.

“An average of 40 people die every day. We should remember that this disease can be prevented by vaccination and personal restrictive measures. Personal measures are not important just for ourselves but also for the protection of people around us who are in risk groups,” he said. Kayıpmaz also warned that COVID-19 has long-term effects and that even though those who have recovered are back to social life without needing a new test in a week, the risk of carrying infection continues for another two weeks. “They should stick to wearing masks for a while longer then, to protect others,” he said.
Professor Tevfik Özlü, another member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says Türkiye managed to curb “the speed” of the surge in the pandemic but fatalities, “as expected,” increased. “We witnessed a dramatic rise, especially after the Qurban Bayram holiday but it is a moderate level,” he told İhlas News Agency (İHA) on Wednesday. Özlü also lamented that they do not have the exact case numbers as most people avoided PCR tests. “But still, fatalities matter more for us rather than the number of cases. Currently, the omicron variant appears dominant and it is less severe but still deadly for those in risk groups,” he said. Like Kayıpmaz, he pointed to a new surge in the autumn but said it was nothing unexpected as respiratory infections tend to increase at that time of year.

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