Desert dust plume hits Turkey, raising virus risk


ISTANBUL

Experts said desert dust that arrived in Turkey on March 31 from Africa will begin to show its impact on the country until early next week, increasing the risk of accelerating coronavirus cases in the country. .

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Early reports said the desert dust was only expected to affect the western coasts and southeastern provinces for two days.

“Due to the winds, the duration extended until Sunday evening [April 3]said Hüseyin Toros, a meteorologist at Istanbul Technical University.

“We’ll get rid of it on Monday [April 4],” he added.

Turkey’s state meteorological service warned residents of Central Anatolia, Aegean and Black Sea provinces to take action against heavy dust clouds throughout the weekend.

“We recommend everyone, regardless of age, to stay indoors. Keep the windows tightly closed,” said Hasan Bayram, the head of the Turkish Chest Association.

Saying people with chronic illnesses or COPD and heart patients are at risk, Bayram said inhaling the dust can cause headaches, the flu or a sore throat.

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All experts advise people to wear face masks if they need to go out. Prominent meteorologist Orhan Şen is one of them who suggested there was no need to panic. “We are expecting rain on Sunday in the Marmara region,” he said, hinting at the end of the desert storm.

A professor from Dokuz Eylül University in the western province of Izmir has warned of an increase in coronavirus cases due to the desert storm.

“The layer of dust increases the time that particles and droplets of the COVID-19 virus remain floating in the air. It will increase the number of cases,” Doğan Yaşar said.

“Remember April 2020. Turkey held a record with 5,000 cases of COVID-19. In April 2020, the country broke another record with 63,000. It is April again and the desert dust is here,” he said.

When an infected person sneezes, the virus reaches the ground in three seconds. But the cloud of dust in the air helps it stick around for hours, the doctor said, reminding people to wear face masks.

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