Turkey is going through a concerning phase in the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of cases skyrocket. The latest figures for the last week of December 2021 show a considerable rise in cases in 57 out of 81 provinces. The daily number of cases, in the meantime, remains above 60,000. The surge is largely linked to omicron, a new fast-spreading variant of the deadly infection. Experts say the worst may yet come and call upon the public to exert caution.
Professor Hakan Oğuztürk, an emergency medicine specialist from Ankara City Hospital in the Turkish capital, said a risk exists for cases to increase further and pointed out that people who were not vaccinated with booster shots against COVID-19 aggravated the spread of infections. "Moreover, people are unfortunately abstaining more from personal measures like wearing protective masks and adhering to social distancing, compared to last winter. People likely feel relaxed due to lack of restrictions and abandon measures, but this is a mistake," he told Anadolu Agency (AA) Tuesday.
Oğuztürk said the omicron variant had a rate of infection that is "40 times" higher compared to the earlier delta strain and called on the public to adhere to measures and get their booster shots. "Our health care system is able to respond to the rise but it cannot tolerate this burden forever," he warned.
Professor Alper Şener, a member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board said the surge was proving that the "pandemic is real" for those who do not believe it. "If this surge is entirely caused by omicron, we may see a further rise in the number of patients," he warned. Şener told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Tuesday that big cities were at greater risk.
"This was the case with the delta variant as well. Omicron is not like earlier variants that took a longer time to spread. It causes sudden surges in cases that do not plateau in a short span. We can break the chain of infections only by early diagnosis. If you undergo tests as soon as possible when you are having symptoms, this will help in achieving this," he said.