It would be more appropriate if Turkey adopts a “controlled transition” after a full lockdown, the country’s health minister has said.
Amid a resurgence in COVID-19 infections, the country on April 29 evening entered the full lockdown which will remain in effect until 5 a.m. on May 17.
In response to a question on whether a full reopening will follow the lockdown, “I believe a controlled transition would be more meaningful. This will be a rather balanced process which should not hinder the daily life,” Koca told daily Hürriyet.
“We will move to a period where more vaccinations will be carried out and the effects of the pandemic will weaken. This could be possible in the summer,” the minister said.
Koca predicted that the number of daily COVID-19 cases may decline below 5,000 after the Eid al-Fitr holiday, noting that infections are already falling toward 30,000.
The full lockdown will minimize contact between people, prevent dense crowds and help bring the number of cases down, the minister said.
“We are working hard to meet this target [of bringing the number of cases below 5,000].”
He also said that inspections will be tightened in resorts towns, which have seen an influx of people who left big cities for those coastal towns before the lockdown begins.
This exodus is not likely to create a new variant of COVID-19 but heightens the risk of the spread of the coronavirus, Koca added.
According to the minister, the country’s vaccination drive will gain momentum in the coming months.
“We are determined to vaccinate our citizens aged 40 and over by June the latest. Afterwards if we could inoculate people aged over 18, we will have a more controlled summer. We will have both measures in place and intensified vaccinations,”
He reiterated that there is a “vaccine war” in the world and countries cannot secure the mount of jabs they target to have. Vaccine agreements are not honored, there are no problems regarding problems, but countries want to use the injections produced domestically, Koca explained.
“We would not have any problems if we had received 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end April as promised,” he said.
Turkey has already received 5 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine so far and the company plans to deliver additional 1.1 million doses in May. “We are presently discussing in what periods a total of 90 million doses will be delivered,” Koca said.
On April 30, the minister informed that Turkey has 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pzifer/BioNTech and the jab developed by the Chinese company Sinovac.
Last week, Turkey inked an agreement to receive 50 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine over six months starting in May. The Turkish Medicines and Medical Devices Agency on April 30 approved the Russian jab for emergency use.
Turkey to drop PCR test obligation from 16 countries
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry said on May 2 that visitors from 16 countries and regions will not be required to present a negative PCR test for traveling to Turkey.
The countries and regions included Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Israel, Japan, the U.K., Latvia, Luxembourg, Ukraine, and Estonia, according to the ministry.
In a letter sent to the Interior Ministry, the Health Ministry said the decision will be effective as of May 15.