The omicron variant overtook earlier strains as the dominant strain of the coronavirus circulating in Turkey, however, the questions remain as to how long will it be before the pandemic loses its grip on the country. Professor Tevfik Özlü, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, said there was hope for a decline in the number of cases for some provinces in the coming days but warned further surges may be seen in others.
“We see a rise in cases in most cities. We are seeing a drop in Istanbul, where the omicron surge first started. Similarly, there is a decline in Eskişehir, another city that was among those who reported the first cases of omicron. It appears that the pandemic reached a peak in both cities and is now on a decline,” he told Ihlas News Agency (IHA) Wednesday.
Özlü, however, warned that the virus has now spread from big cities in the west to all of Turkey due to a two-week midterm holiday for schoolchildren, a time when families head to hometowns in Anatolia and to vacation resort towns.
"There might be an increase there and they will be late to have their number of cases plateaued,” he said. He added that omicron has not strained the health care system as hospitalizations have not increased but they have recently seen a rise in the daily death toll to above 200. “Therefore, you still have to be careful. You can suffer from a mild case without the need of hospitalization, but you can infect others and they may die, if they are in the risk group.”
The country has recorded 111,096 new COVID-19 infections in the span of 24 hours, just below the record daily high from the previous week, as well as its highest daily death toll in months, the Health Ministry data showed on Tuesday. In late December, daily cases stood at about 20,000 but the number surged due to the highly transmissible omicron variant.
Last Friday, Turkey reported a record 111,157 infections. Data on Tuesday also showed 241 people died due to COVID-19 in the same 24-hour period, the highest daily toll since Nov. 3, while Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged citizens to complete their vaccination and the elderly to be more cautious.