Turkish medics call for tougher measures as COVID-19 surges

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Turkey’s top medical group called on the government to reverse its course and tighten COVID-19 restrictions amid a surge in infections, including by imposing curbs on social mobility and contact.

Daily infections and deaths have spiked over the past month after Ankara announced a period of gradual return to normal life. Turkey recorded 29,081 new cases on Friday, just below this year’s highest number.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday the pandemic would be under control by late May or June, adding that citizens must wear masks and practice social distancing.

But the Turkish Medics Association (TTB) said the government was unable to manage the pandemic and called the current conditions in Turkey a “social assassination”.

“A surge of cases in a short time show that Turkey, just like many other countries in Europe, is facing a tsunami. While this surging tendency continues, we need more serious measures strengthened by public solidarity,” the TTB said.

Without naming names, the doctors’ group called for those responsible at the health ministry to resign, as well as for more transparency on daily coronavirus figures and variants detected, vaccine procurements, and the criteria used to classify risks by province.

“Mobility in very busy streets in cities should be decreased. Mass contacts between people in enclosed areas should be limited,” it said.

President Tayyip Erdogan and his government came under fire this week for holding a party congress with thousands of people, many of whom were seen violating social distancing rules, not wearing or improperly wearing masks.

Since inoculations began on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered 14.6 million shots and 8.2 million people having received a first dose. It expects to receive 100 million doses of vaccines from various suppliers by the end of May.

Main Photo: Turkish police patrol around the Hagia Sophia Mosque during the lockdown on a cloudy day in Istanbul, Turkey. EPA-EFE/SEDAT SUNA

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