Turkish gov't watching idly as COVID-19 cases, deaths rapidly increase

Experts are concerned that the Turkish government is watching idly as a new wave of COVID-19 infections is expected to take over the population, the daily BirGün reported on Aug. 24. Deaths have increased as much as 43 percent over the past week, but Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Aug. 20 that no lockdowns were on the horizon.

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Experts are concerned that the Turkish government is watching idly by as yet another wave of COVID-19 infections is taking over the country, the daily BirGün reported on Aug. 24. 

Turkish schools are due to reopen on Sep. 6, although experts find that the Education Ministry's preventative measures against the spread of COVID-19 in educational institutions are insufficient, urging an increase in vaccination rates among students and educators. 

The month of August alone saw the death of 3,198 patients, and some 450,000 people are actively ill at the moment, experts said, noting that these numbers are concerning. 

"The number of deaths has been on the rise for six weeks," public health expert Dr. Cavit Işık Yavuz said. "The past week's number of deaths saw a 43 percent increase from the previous week."

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca's statement that an average of 20 million people remain unvaccinated is a serious public health threat, Yavuz added, noting the importance of shrinking the unvaccinated population. 

"Vaccinations should pick up speed and preventions should be put into place. The public needs a management strategy that decreases the number of ambiguities," Yavuz said. 

The ministry should double or triple the number of tests conducted routinely, infectious diseases expert Prof. Bülent Ertuğrul said, adding that he's suspicious about the validity of official data. 

Delta variant concerns

Meanwhile, concerns over a possible new wave of the Delta variant of coronavirus have increased, and the Turkish Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Association (KLİMİK) encouraged increased preventative measures to ensure a safe academic year. 

Schools should take charge in vaccinating students, workers and parents, KLİMİK said, adding that the government should immediately assign shots to all children over 12. 

Classroom sizes should be shrunk, the association noted, and interactions between classes should be minimized in order to brace a dire new wave of infections.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government has failed to implement any new precautions on any level of public life, with Minister Koca saying as late as Aug. 20 that a new lockdown wasn't considered.

According to the Health Ministry, over 46.30 million people have received a first dose and more than 35.39 million are now fully vaccinated.

Turkey has also given third booster shots to over 7.60 million people.

The ministry also confirmed 18,857 new infections and 232 coronavirus-related deaths on Aug. 23.