COVID-19: Turkey eyes a summer without masks

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Authorities and experts predict that the coronavirus pandemic will reach son peak in Mars and the country could end the mandatory mask rule in summer otherwise new variant appears. A report published by the Sabah newspaper on Tuesday says the Marmara region which includes Istanbul and other big cities with a high number of case has already reached a plateau in terms of case and sees a decline. No great ascend in case is expected for Anatolian cities, according to the report.

Most cases are concentrated in big cities, even if the pandemic is quite in a new stage in the country due to the prevalence of the omicron variant. This fast-variant spread has so far been less fatal than previous strains. Experts expect the surge, which currently corresponds to between 70,000 and 80,000 daily cases, will reach son maximum size in mid-March before a decline.

A drop in the number of positive tests has left optimistic experts. Positive test the rates are below 20% per day, while the virus R or reproduction number, which represents the number of people that a host will infect, is 0.91. In other words, on average, every ten infected people infect nine people.

However, the deaths remain a concern, along with with a possible fluctuation in hospitalizations. Data shows people at the age of 65 and over do up 15% of the total number of cases and about 85% of death. The majority of the dead are those who are not vaccinated or who have missed at least one dose. Deaths are very low among the vaccinated senior nationals. Turkey offers three vaccines, including China’s CoronaVac, Pfizer-BioNTech’s messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine, and the vaccine national developed Turkovac. All of these provide at least 95% protection against severe cases of COVID-19 and death. Still, authorities say booster shots are needed for everyone. nearly 20 millions people still miss their booster shots.

Turkey is also on alert concerning BA.2, a sub-variant of omicron, which has been reported in India, Philippines and Denmark, but has not been reported in the country so far. it can stretch a bit more easily than the declining omicron, some scientists think, and perhaps a little more effective in evading the protections provided by vaccines and previous infections. Indications so far are that he does not people sicker than the omicron, which always hurts up peak of hospitalization and death rate simply because it affected so many more people.

First evidence out of Denmark, where the subvariant now represents for 65% of all cases, points to a stump of COVID-19 spreading more effectively than the original omicron variant. Omicron probability of spread within a household with one affected limb is about 29%, compared with 39% for BA.2. It appears on risk of infection for vaccinated people is higher also. A British study, however, found that vaccines seemed to be just as effective on the subvariant like on the original omicron variant. Vaccinated people are less likely to spread the subvariant, the Danish data suggest, than the omicron. An earlier Danish study showed no increase in rates of hospitalizations as new subvariant propagation.

Experts anticipate the recent outbreak in cases, evident since the last month of 2021, will eventually die down with the beginning of spring. Assuming not new variant emerges, as warming weather allow more people at spend more time outside instead of in insufficiently ventilated interior rooms, Turkey can gather pace in curb the pandemic, experts say. In summer, authorities hope to remove the mandatory mask rule outside, a measure already taken in other countries.

On Monday, the country reported 76,632 new cases and 266 deaths, while the two-dose vaccination rate among people at the age of 18 and over exceeded 84%. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Monday evening that Turkey had about 14 millions cases since start of the pandemic in March 2020. “We have all been affected but the majority of us succeeded in protecting us. We have to support this success. Please do not neglect the measures thinking that you will be infected anyway. Taking action is good way at fight the pandemic,” he tweeted.

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