Younger people have replaced older citizens in intensive care units in recent weeks, professor Hasan Murat Gündüz said Tuesday, pointing out the danger of Turkish youth ignoring COVID-19 measures.
Gündüz, the chief physician of a hospital in the southern province of Adana and a member of Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, warned that the rate of younger patients with COVID-19 who end up in intensive care rose to 25% recently. He blamed the failure to adapt to normalization for the increasing rate of the virus among youth.
“They think they are stronger and nothing will happen. After normalization, the low rate of cases among the youth increased again,” he told Demirören News Agency (DHA).
Turkey returned to a "new normal" of daily life early in the summer and reopened businesses, under strict measures against the outbreak. Yet, sightings of young people ditching masks, disregarding social distancing and flouting hygiene rules have become common.
“It seems the senior citizens are more careful about the disease,” Gündüz said, adding that the health condition of patients under the age of 50 can be as severe as the condition of older patients.
Turkey on Monday recorded 1,743 new COVID-19 cases and 68 deaths in the past 24 hours. "The number of our seriously ill patients approached 1,500," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca wrote on Twitter on Monday evening.
"We must reduce the burden on our health care professionals in order to continue their devoted work. This can only happen by following the precautions," he urged.
The Health Ministry data showed 112,942 tests were carried out across the country in the past 24 hours and 1,202 COVID-19 patients recovered from the virus. The country's overall case count now stands at 304,610, with 268,435 recoveries. The death toll from the coronavirus has reached 7,574.
Professor Gündüz also warned about the coronavirus's close resemblance to the flu as Turkey braces for a rise in flu cases in autumn and winter. “You need more than one test and diagnosis to find out if a patient has flu or coronavirus. But if the public adheres to measures taken against the coronavirus, they will be safe from the flu as well. We should continue wearing masks, be careful about social distancing and hygiene. We should avoid crowded places,” he said.
Gündüz said some provinces saw a drop in cases while rises were recorded in others, and authorities may consider “regional” restrictions against the outbreak. “A likely vaccine in 2021 will ensure immunity. The next year will be better, but we need to be patient,” he said.
Despite warnings, some members of the public remain oblivious to measures, the latest figures on noncompliance fines show. Those not wearing masks while going out are subject to monetary fines. Since June, more than 476,000 people were warned or fined for not wearing masks.
The southeastern province of Gaziantep tops the statistics. Authorities detected more than 185,000 people not wearing masks in inspections since June. Gaziantep is followed by the northwestern province of Bursa, Istanbul and western Izmir province.