Turkish doctors are not of the same opinion as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with regards to the course of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, warning that the pandemic has not been yet brought under control.
The experts' comments came two days after Erdoğan said Turkey brought COVID-19 infection "under control to a great extent" due to lockdowns and restrictions.
Prof. Dr. İbrahim Akkurt, a member of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB)'s Central Council, said that over 50 percent of the population needs to be vaccinated before the outbreak can be declared to be under control.
Akkurt said that if the measures are fully eased in June, as has been announced by Erdoğan, Turkey's COVID-19 infections will average around 60,000 per day once again, unless vaccinations move at a full speed.
“If there is no vaccination, everything will go back to the beginning. And if a full 'opening' occurs on June 1, it seems that we will go back to the same point in July with regards to the case numbers,” he told online news portal Diken on May 19.
Prof. Dr. Bülent Tutluoğlu said that although the strict 17-day full lockdown had a serious impact on decreasing the number of the cases, it will not be sufficient to prevent the pandemic from spreading further as the country once again eased the measures.
“Such lockdowns are good to alleviate the burden on the hospitals, but not to prevent the pandemic. They only help us to breathe for a short period of time,” Tutluoğlu told Diken.
Tutluoğlu said that with the further easing of measures in June, the case numbers might see a slight increase in the upcoming days, but that the summer weather will reduce the disease's spread.
He warned that the Health Ministry should vaccinate at least 60-70 percent of the population by fall for the country not to head towards the fourth wave.
“If we do not vaccinate the 60-70 percent of the population until fall, we might see a fourth wave in October. If you do not have the support of the vaccination program, go into a lockdown as much as you want [it will not matter],” he said.
Prof. Dr. Pınar Saip said that warm weather has been another factor in decreasing the infection numbers, but that the pandemic is not in any way under control.
“To bring the pandemic under control, there is a need for a more widespread testing and faster vaccination,” Saip said, adding that Turkey might see a new peak in September unless the mutant variant cases are thoroughly determined and isolated.