Lockdown pushes back virus: Turkish health chief

EDIRNE from Turkey

Turkey’s ongoing 17-day lockdown is bearing fruit with declining COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Turkey’s health minister said on Monday.

“I am convinced that this complete containment will ensure a rapid decrease in the number of cases. We have already seen a decrease in the number of cases and hospitalized patients, ”Fahrettin Koca told reporters in the northwestern province of Edirne.

“I know we will see a similar trend in the number of critically ill patients and deaths,” he added.

He stressed that they sincerely believed things were getting better, saying, “We are showing a fine example of national sacrifice during this troubled time. I think we will definitely see the benefits soon.

The fight will be won together. As long as we stand united there is no reason not to win. “

He denied claims that the number of tests had been reduced to show fewer cases.

“These claims are baseless and ill-intentioned. Tests, as usual, are done on those who show symptoms of the virus. The downward trend has something to do with the nationwide lockdown, ”Koca added.

He urged people to get their jabs, which are provided free of charge by the state.

“By the end of June, we want to vaccinate our citizens over 40, we are committed to it, and we also want to vaccinate our citizens over 18 and our young people during the summer.

“So now we’re talking about 240 million vaccines in total. 100 million of them are Sinovac (Chinese)… With a number of positive developments in the coming days, we estimate that shipments (of these vaccines) may start again this month.

“Apart from that, 50 million doses of the (Russian) Sputnik V vaccine have been agreed to be delivered over six months, as well as a contract for BioNTech in the form of 90 million doses, against 30 million.

“I can tell you the amount that became clear in the form of 30 million doses in June. So within three or four months – that is, summer – we try to vaccinate all of our citizens aged 18 and over, ”Koca said.

Regarding the Sputnik V vaccine, Koca said: “We expect the first shipment in May. In a week or two, it will be clear. As with all vaccines, safety testing will be done shortly after arrival, and then vaccination will begin as soon as possible. “

Regarding the locally made COVID-19 vaccine in Turkey, developed by Erciyes University in the central province of Kayseri, he said: “Phase 2 testing of this vaccine on volunteers has been completed and is currently underway. ‘Evaluation. Phase 3 will be completed within a week or two ”.

“I would like to say that if this process continues successfully, as we anticipate, this vaccine can be used in September,” Koca said.

Turkey has so far administered nearly 23.5 million vaccines against the coronavirus since the start of a national vaccination campaign on January 14. More than 14 million people have received their first dose, while more than 9.44 million people have been fully immunized.

To stem the spread of the virus, Turkey last week launched a nationwide lockdown that will last until May 17.

* Written by Ahmet Gencturk and Merve Berker

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