After almost two years with the coronavirus pandemic, Turkey announced suspension of mandatory mask rule in full air for the public. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the decision after a meeting of the ministry’s scientific advisory board on the coronavirus in the capital Ankara on Wednesday. He also announced that Hayat Eve Sığar (HES – Life Fits Into Home) codes will no longer be required for citizens who had to show them at the entrance of malls and other similar crowded places. koca added that the fight against the pandemic would continue now with vaccination.
the decision comes after Turkey broke daily case records in the pandemic last months, only to see the cases drop at December levels. The unprecedented outbreak has taken the number of cases to more than 100,000 a day in times and was related to fast- spread omicron variant. The same variant is also responsible for milder cases that do not require hospitalization for most patients. Eventually, cases began to decline again this month and were 56,780 as of Wednesday evening.
Experts say mass vaccination is the only way out of pandemic, combined with mass immunity, which can be obtained if more people are infected and cured or vaccinated.
Since vaccination program Was launched in the country in January 2021, more over 145 millions doses were administered. Over 52 millions people received two doses of vaccines. However, authorities say booster shots, at least oneare required for the vaccinated for full protection against variants. Official figures show more over 27 millions people were administered third injections. No data is available on fourth and fifth strokes, which are now available for people who have been inoculated in the first days of the vaccine program.
The vaccine rate is greater than 80% in more of the 81 provinces of the country, with the exception of a few in the South-East. Şanlıurfa has the lowest vaccination rate rate at around 62%, while Osmaniye in the south has the highest rate, greater than 89%. Turkey offers inactive CoronaVac vaccine from China developed by Sinovac, a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech and lately, Turkovac, another inactive vaccine developed by Turkish scientists from the University of Erciyes.
Anti-vaxxers and vaccine hesitancy are barriers for Health care workers. anti-vaccines, active on social media organized several rallies last year corn failed to design public interest in their causes. Hesitation face to vaccines, on on the other hand, is overcome in most places thanks to mobile crews of the ministry of health who go door to door to convince citizens and vaccinate them on the place if they accept.
Professor Alper Şener, member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, which recommended lifting restrictions, said Turkey was now in a new phase where “personal responsibilities are at the forefront”.
His words echo government policy which was imposed last the summer when he lifted the blockages and ordered the reopening of most companies in full after the number of abandoned cases. To the place of a centralized top down approach, the government first took the initiative to impose restrictions on local authorities. Gradually, more restrictions eased as ministry ramped up vaccination program with more expeditions of vaccines from abroad. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has already urged citizens to take their own action instead of general restrictions, namely wearing masks in places of risklike crowded rooms, to maintain social distancing and respect for hygiene rules. He repeated the same warnings on Wednesday evening and urged citizens to keep their masks on with even if they don’t have to wear them outside.
Şener told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Thursday that it was still early to say that the pandemic is over. “We always have up to 50,000 cases per day. But the priorities changed in the pandemic. Have a high rate of people at the age of 65 and over vaccinated gives us self-confidence in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
The elderly and people with chronic diseases make up the majority of coronavirus deaths and infections. They often require hospitalization when they are younger peoples’they have no additional health problems recovering from the infection with mild symptoms similar to a less severe form of influenza.
“We have fewer and fewer patients every day who require intensive care. Within five big cities, we have seen the number of daily cases have almost halved compared to previous weeks,” Şener added.
the professor says deletion of the HES code requirement may be controversial, but it was also open to discussion. ” We see people illegally copy people HES codes and using them,” he noted.
“It’s a moment for higher personal responsibility. You don’t have to keep your masks on on ton face but they should to be in your pocket absolutely. You should wear masks in some places with poor ventilation,” he said, listing public transportation vehicles and elevators among them. He said people 65 and over should be extra careful and carry on wearing masks inside, whatever of the state of ventilation and urged the younger people to keep their masks on on approaching the senior citizens.