Turkey might lift COVID-19 restrictions after February 15 following vaccine rollout, says expert

Turkey might lift the COVID-19-related measures after Feb. 15, once the second dose of the Chinese vaccine is administered, according to Prof. Mustafa Necmi İlhan, a member of a board advising the government on outbreak measures.

This photo shows Istanbul's İstikal Avenue on Dec 31, 2020.

Duvar English

Turkey might lift the COVID-19-related restrictions on Feb. 15, following the rollout of vaccine, according to the Health Ministry's Social Sciences Board member Dr. Mustafa Necmi İlhan.

İlhan said that the number of COVID-19 patients had seen a sharp drop in the last month following the restrictions.

The government has imposed curfews each weekday evening and full weekend lockdowns for more than a month in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

“The number of patients has decreased from about 7,000 to 1,500 in the last month. We think that the first dose of the vaccine will be administered on about Jan. 15, and the second dose will be administrated 28 days later. Accordingly, it will be appropriate to think that the restrictions might be lifted after Feb. 15,” İlhan was quoted as saying by Turkish media outlets on Jan. 7.

Turkey received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac early on Dec. 30, almost a week after Ankara said the vaccine was safe and effective, based on interim Phase III trial results.

The Turkish Health Ministry said on Jan. 5 that it will give emergency approval for the vaccine if it is found to be safe following tests which will last at least 14 days.

Turkey plans first doses for health workers and those older than 65, the ministry has said, followed by those older than 50 and suffering at least one chronic illness, in addition to those in specific sectors or high-risk environments.

Meanwhile, the country reported 12,171 new virus cases on Jan. 7, bringing the country's total number of cases to 2,296,102.

It reported 194 related fatalities over the same period, raising the total death toll so far to 22,264.

“Our number of patients in critical condition is decreasing day by day. There is a limited increase in the number of active cases. Restrictions and measures continue to give results,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.