Professor Ateş Kara, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says no serious surge in the number of patients was recorded after the resumption of in-person education last month. “On the contrary, we see a higher risk of testing positive for children of school age who do not attend schools,” Kara said in an interview with Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Thursday.
Turkey seeks to balance the normalization process through strict measures to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak. After allowing businesses to reopen and lifting curfews, it decided to resume in-person education that was put on hold after the outbreak was first reported in the country in March. The Ministry of National Education is following a gradual reopening policy for schools with kindergarten students being the first to return, while other grades were allowed back in the following weeks. In the first week of November, fifth and eighth-grade students will start in-person education.
When assessing the return of millions of students to in-person education during the current state of the pandemic, Kara found the children were “more protected” against COVID-19 at schools. “Children are more vulnerable to seasonal illnesses like flu but are more protected when it comes to COVID-19. They are usually infected by grownups and less symptomatic. If there is a surge in the number of adult patients, there becomes an increase among children as well. But this does not mean that they suffer severely from the infection,” Kara said.
Following the reopening of schools, he noted they did not see a significant surge in the number of child COVID-19 patients nor have they seen an increase from households with children attending school. “Certainly, there are a number of patients, but the figures are not as high,” he said.
Kara claims children who are not attending school have a higher risk of being exposed than those at school since while at school the children obey the rules put in place to protect them from the virus and apply them at home. “For instance, kindergarten and first grade students absolutely have to wear masks and now tell their parents to. We have to be more careful with older age groups who are more careless. With proper methods to convince them, they will adapt to measures more,” he said.
Since March, Turkey reported more than 353,000 COVID-19 patients, and the total number of recoveries stands at slightly over 308,000. More than 9,500 people have died in total with the number of tests exceeding 12 million.
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