As the global struggle against the coronavirus pandemic continues, Turkey has managed to bring the number of daily cases below 1,000 in the past weeks, with just around 900 cases detected last week.
The country reported 927 new coronavirus cases, while 1,010 patients have recovered from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 209,487, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Sunday.
"The number of new cases is on average for recent days. The gap between the number of recovered patients and the tally of new cases is close to that of yesterday," Koca said on Twitter. "Since the number of patients treated in intensive care units, intubated and in the high-risk group is approximately the same, the number of patients who have died is close to the ones in previous days," he added, citing Health Ministry data.
According to the minister, health care professionals have conducted more than 40,000 tests to diagnose COVID-19 infections since Saturday, raising the total count to above 4.57 million.
The country's COVID-19 death toll rose to 5,613, with 17 new fatalities recorded Sunday. The daily number of fatalities has rarely passed the 20 mark recently.
Since July 3, the country has had fewer than 20,000 active cases. The first coronavirus patients were reported in March in Turkey.
Koca said last Friday that Istanbul, the country's most populated city with more than 15 million people, accounted for more than half of COVID-19 related deaths – with some 46% of total cases in the metropolis.
Professor Tevfik Özlü, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Science Board, said symptomatic patients carry a higher risk of infecting others compared to those who do not show symptoms. "Patients with clear symptoms are more infectious a few days before demonstrating symptoms and seven-10 days after symptoms are visible," he warned.
Özlü on his social media account said, however, that the number of asymptomatic patients is "10 times higher" than those with symptoms.
SCHOOLS TO BE CERTIFIED
Though uncertainty hangs over whether schools will be reopened on Aug. 31, the authorities have layout every scenario. The ministries of Education and Technology cooperated on certifying schools according to hygiene standards. Schools complying with the set hygiene standards against the coronavirus will receive the "My School is Clean" certification.
Speaking at a protocol signing ceremony in the capital Ankara on Monday, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said students have been missing their schools during the outbreak and the protocol aims for a safe return to school.
Schools, shut down in March after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in Turkey, will start a new academic year in August. They can be reopened under various methods, Minister of National Education Ziya Selçuk said last week.
He added that they would either partially open schools and extend school hours to allow more students to attend under strict security measures or they would continue online classes, also held during the height of the pandemic.
The Health Ministry has already set out several guidelines for reopening, from constant disinfection to social distancing in classrooms and students wearing masks at all times.
Varank says schools will need to comply with comprehensive guidelines, which detail every measure, from the place of sanitizers to checking the body temperature of students and staff while entering the school, relocation of desks to properly maintain the air circulation in classrooms.
The guide also covers hygiene measures in school buses, labs, mess halls and playgrounds. The authorities will inspect schools that apply for the certificate.
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