Turkey has been experiencing a renewed acceleration in the contagion of COVID-19 in the last two months, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
“The contagion of the virus has accelerated especially in the last two months. Although we are trying to reach the contacts of the determined cases, it is not possible to know all the carriers. What is for sure is that this problem cannot be tackled without your help,” Koca said, urging the public to strictly comply with the COVID-19 measures.
Koca made the comments on Sept. 16 during a news conference, following a meeting of the Coronavirus Science Committee.
Turkey’s daily toll for patients infected with the COVID-19 in the last few weeks has reached similar figures last recorded in May. The infections have begun to spike on a daily basis after falling to as low as 902 on July 22.
“Today, both we and the world are in a more difficult phase of COVID-19 than at the beginning of the pandemic,” Koca said, indicating that the “burden” on the Turkish healthcare staff has increased by 4-5 times compared to the initial phase of the pandemic.
“Put yourselves at the shoes of the healthcare staff. The only support that you can give them at this struggle is that you protect yourselves from the virus,” Koca said.
The minister urged everyone to download the HES application (short for “Hayat Eve Sığar,” translated as “Life Fits into Home”) as the application tracks the contraction of the virus and shares maps of risk areas. He said that 140,000 virus patients have attempted to breach the 14-day mandatory home quarantine rule and their violations had been tracked thanks to the HES application.
Asked if the government was thinking of implementing a nationwide curfew, Koca said: “A curfew is not on the agenda. The [Coronavirus] Science Committee is not for the moment suggesting such a measure.”
Turkey begins Phase III trials of Chinese coronavirus vaccine
Koca also said that Turkey began final Phase III trials of an experimental Chinese coronavirus vaccine on Sept. 16.
“The first administration of the Sinovac vaccine was started with three healthcare workers at Hacettepe University, who volunteered to take part in the trials,” Koca said.
The vaccine will be administered to between 1,200 and 1,300 health workers over 10 days and a second dose will be given 14 days after the first, Turkish media outlets reported earlier.
The results of the trial will be sent the World Health Organization (WHO).
Koca added that Turkey continued its own attempts at developing a vaccine.
The Sinovac vaccine candidate will later be administered to volunteers with chronic diseases, with the aim of vaccinating 13,000 people, Turkish media outlets said.
Turkey registers 1,771 new cases, 63 more fatalities from virus
Koca also said 63 more people had died from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, and that there were 1,771 new cases.
Healthcare professionals conducted 112,645 more tests to diagnose the disease over the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to over 8.85 million.
Koca stressed 51.6 percent of the beds in hospitals were occupied, intensive care units are working at 66.3 percent capacity and 33.6 percent of the ventilators are being used.
Of those infected, 7.1 percent suffer from pneumonia.
Koca said the number of patients in critical condition has increased to 1,351.