Since declaring its first coronavirus case three weeks ago, Turkey has recorded one of the steepest trajectories of new cases in the world, amid fears it could become a hot spot of the pandemic. The rapid rise in cases – 18,135 confirmed infections and 356 deaths as of late Thursday – has seen Turkey overtake other G20 states such as South Korea and Canada that reported cases of the virus weeks earlier.
By ANDREW WILKS
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
It has also left Turks asking if the country might be following the path of Italy, which has recorded more than 110,000 cases. “Turkey has the highest acceleration rate for cases,” said Caghan Kizil, associate professor of neuroscience and genetics at the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.
“This is because social mobility wasn’t prevented. If we look at China, they were successful because they identified asymptomatic patients who weren’t showing signs of infection. After the lockdown in Wuhan, the number of cases caused by undocumented infected people dropped significantly.”
Esin Senol, a professor of infectious disease at Gazi University in Ankara, pointed out that Turkey has now seen the world’s tenth-highest number of cases and is one of the countries at most risk. “It appears to have spread long before the first case was reported, due to trips to Europe, Iran and Umrah,” she said, referring to the Muslim pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Limiting testing to those who had recently been abroad in the early days of the outbreak in Turkey also allowed the virus to spread, Senol added.
On Thursday evening, Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca announced 79 new deaths. Although the figure is far lower than numbers seen in the worst days in countries like Italy and Spain, where daily death tolls have frequently surpassed 800 recently, it was the sharpest increase yet in Turkey.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Koca revealed for the first time the nature of the spread of the outbreak across Turkey, showing that 60 percent of cases had been reported in Istanbul, the country’s commercial hub, which accounts for a fifth of Turkey’s population.
Mehmet Ceyhan, chairman of Turkey’s Infectious Diseases Association, warned that the country could see its number of infections outstrip others. “If we go at the current rate, our number of cases will be 300,000 in 10 days,” he said.
However, closing down public spaces, restricting travel between cities and ensuring people stay at home would avoid such a dramatic scenario. “I look at the measures that have been implemented, and our people have begun to adapt a little better,” Ceyhan said. “If we comply with the measures in the same way, we may see a fall in the rate of increase.” CONTINUE READING THE STORY HERE