Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Oct. 28 that if the number of COVID-19 infections in Istanbul is not brought under control, the pandemic will no longer be manageable.Istanbul's 28 districts see more than doubling of COVID-19 cases in past week
"Ifwe don’t get the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreakwill spiral out of control,” Koca said in a press conference, afterchairing a meeting of the CoronavirusScientific Advisory Board.
The board meeting, which was being held in the capital Ankara since the beginning of the pandemic, took place in Istanbul for the first time.
Koca said that it is not an “ordinary incident" for the board meeting to take place in Istanbul, drawing attention to the “frightening” infection rate in the metropolis.
Koca said that the number of COVID-19 infections in Istanbul increased by 62 percent in the last week, listing several districts that have seen a surge of over 100 percent. “About 40 percent of the cases in Turkey are in Istanbul, whereas this rate is 30 percent for patients in critical condition,” he said.Turkish Health Ministry bans resignation of healthcare staff due to COVID-19 outbreak
Theminister said that compared to the average of last month, themetropolis has registered more than 85 percent increase in COVID-19infections in the last seven days. “When this rate is taken intoaccount with 16.5 million people living in the city, it isfrightening. The increase [in infections] is also high in cities fromwhich several people come on a daily basis to Istanbul,” he said.
Kocasaid the biggest reason for the increasing numbers in Istanbul waspublic transportation as millions of workers pack mass transitvehicles during rush hour, creating a perfect environment for thevirus to spread.
Koca said that the virus is currently being transmitted from one person to an average of three people, urging citizens to reduce physical contact and not to leave their houses “unless they have to.”Coronavirus outbreak on the rise again, Ankara 'considering preventative measures'
“We need your support more than ever now. Do not go outside unless you have to. Do not travel unless those trips are mandatory...Postpone non-essential celebrations and ceremonies. This stage requires discipline,” he said.
The minister once again urged citizens to strictly continue wearing masks, maintain their social distance and pay attention to hygiene. “We will reduce movement and contact by one third. If we are normally seeing three people, we will meet with one of them. My demand is that you reduce movement and contact by one third,” he said.
Asked if the government is considering reimplementing travel restrictions or weekend curfews on a regional basis, Koca said that such measures are currently not on the agenda.
Meanwhile, Turkey on Oct. 28 registered 2,305 new COVID-19 “patients,” pushing the tally to 368,513, according to Health Ministry data. The country recorded 77 new COVID-19 fatalities over the last 24 hours, bringing the toll to 10,027.
Turkey now publishes the number of COVID-19 "patients", which only refers to people with symptoms — and not everyone who tests positive for the virus.