The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey increased eight times based on an analysis of the weekly COVID-19 infection and fatality rates since May 30. The country last reported over 57,000 cases in one week between June 27 and July 3, according to the data from the Health Ministry.
The latest data shows that 57,113 people had COVID-19 infected, which resulted in 25 fatalities and 30,478 recoveries. This data indicated an eightfold rise in COVID-19 cases compared to the one-week data between May 30 and June 5, when 7,322 persons tested positive, with 19 deaths and 7,843 recoveries. Between June 6-12, 7,556 people were infected with the deadly virus – 20 people died, and 7,241 people recovered. During June 13-19, the number of virus-related cases rose to 10,954, with 19 deaths and 7,653 recoveries. Between June 20-26, coronavirus cases rose to 26,635, with 17 deaths and 11,256 recoveries.
Alpay Azap, a member of Ankara University Medical School and is also on the Board of Directors of the Turkish Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the new variants, such as BA.4 and BA.5, are the most contributing factor in the radical increase in case numbers. Besides, he asserted, "There is an understanding among people that the pandemic is over, and they neglect to comply with protective measures."
"However, it is not over as the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientific communities have been emphasizing for the last couple of months. The virus continues to evolve, and there is a new wave caused by the sub-typed of the omicron variant,” he said.
Underscoring that these new strains are so contagious and even stronger against the immunity that comes from either recovering from the virus or the vaccines, Azap said: "We see a radical increase in the case numbers with the abolishment of all virus-related restrictions."
Uncontrollable virus spread, unfortunately, increases the probability of people at risk of becoming infected, he stated. "Although there is a mild course in full vaccinated and young people, there is a severe course in unvaccinated and elderly people, those with various chronic diseases, and immunocompromised people," he added. He emphasized the importance of COVID-19 measures in preventing the spread of the deadly virus, stating that wearing masks in enclosed areas, being cautious about social distance, and completing vaccine jabs are among the most significant precautions in this process.
Turkey has lifted most restrictions related to coronavirus after a sharp drop in the number of cases this spring. Currently, the only restriction in daily life related to the COVID-19 pandemic is the mask mandate in hospitals. However, most coronavirus patients do not end up hospitalized as much as it was in 2021 and 2020.
The WHO warned this week that globally reported cases have increased by almost 30% over the past two weeks and BA.4, BA.5 variants were "driving waves" in Europe and America, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Tedros said at a press conference on July 6 that a new sublineage of BA.2.75 has also been detected in countries like India. He named several factors as culprits in the surge, including a dramatic reduction in tests in many countries which "obscures the true picture of an evolving virus and the real burden of COVID-19 disease globally."
"It also means that treatments are not given early enough to prevent serious illness and/or death. Second, new treatments, especially promising new oral antivirals, are still not reaching low and low-middle income countries, depriving whole populations that need them. Third, as the virus evolves, vaccines protection, while still really effective at preventing serious disease and death, does wane. Decreasing immunity underscores the importance of boosters, especially for the most at-risk," he added.
He also highlighted that each wave of the virus left more people with long COVID or post-COVID condition. "This obviously impacts individuals and their families but it also puts an extra burden on health systems, the wider economy and society-at-large," he added.