Turkey's Health Ministry often warns the public not to drop their guard against the coronavirus pandemic. However, Tevfik Özlü, a member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, went a step further and suggested the measures in place should be kept until the end of next year, warning there might be a "third wave," based on the World Health Organization (WHO) projections.
Speaking to the public broadcaster TRT Haber on Monday evening, Özlü said people should not be "relaxed."
"We expect a drop in the number of patients within the next 15 days but the struggle continues," he said. The anticipated drop is linked to a series of new restrictions introduced last week in the country, including the first weekend curfew in months and closures of restaurants and other businesses.
Özlü said along with curfew, people should heed the advice of experts, including canceling household visits. "If people keep coming together, visiting relatives and neighbors often, these measures will be futile. Our main goal is to stop people from coming together and thus, stop them from infecting each other. You may be protected if you don't go to crowded places outside your home but meeting at homes is no less risky," he warned.
The government imposed a set of measures since the start of the outbreak in the country in March, including mandatory masks and enforcement of social distancing but in the end, success depends on people's compliance with those measures, experts say.
Özlü underlined that the pandemic will not be over unless people comply with rules.
The country's overall tally of virus patients now stands at 453,535. Fatalities have exceeded 12,500 while recoveries stand at 377,891.
Serhat Ünal, another member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says the pandemic may only end when 60% of the population is vaccinated. Ünal said more than 21,000 people have volunteered for trials of CoronaVac, a vaccine developed by the China-based company Sinovac. "Coupled with compliance with measures, mass vaccination can stop the pandemic," he told Demirören News Agency (DHA) Tuesday.
CoronaVac was the first experimental vaccine trialed in Turkey when a group of health care workers stepped up to the plate to be inoculated in September. A monitoring process of the impact of the vaccine is still underway at 25 centers in 12 cities across the country where volunteers are vaccinated.
Ünal said at least a 90% efficacy would be "good enough" for the vaccine and it depended mainly on how the immune system of each recipient responds to it.
"We are talking about a pandemic that made more than 50 million people ill and killed more than 1 million people around the world. We don't know when it will end. A mutation of the virus is anticipated but the possibility is low. You either have to develop a miraculous drug or rely on a vaccine. But first, we have to take care of ourselves by fully complying to measures like wearing a mask, adhering to social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene," he added.
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