What are you looking for?


Turkey unveiled a road map for mass vaccination amid pandemic

Turkey unveiled a road map for mass vaccination amid pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak is bearing down on Turkey despite strict measures and restrictions. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca singled out the southern province of Adana and the northern provinces of Samsun and Ordu as places with a 100% rise in cases in the past two weeks, while the western province of Izmir and the central province of Konya registered a 50% increase in cases in the same period.

“Health care staff and hospitals in those provinces are under a heavy burden,” Koca tweeted late Wednesday after a meeting with local health authorities. “Our test of sacrifice continues in the fight against the outbreak,” Koca said.

The autumn has been particularly devastating so far for the country, which is going through what experts call a second wave of the outbreak. The total number of patients exceeded 513,000, while fatalities rose to 14,129. Some 414,141 patients have recovered since the outbreak made its foray into Turkey in March. The country also increased the number of tests to more than 19 million.

Turkey rolled out a series of measures in the past weeks, including a partial weekend curfew that was extended to a full weekend lockdown this week. On weekdays, a curfew was imposed between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Schools, restaurants, cafes and several businesses were ordered to shut down. Local pandemic boards in each of the 81 provinces also started introducing new restrictions like limited access to crowded streets and squares.

Authorities now largely rely on the public’s compliance with measures. Masks and social distancing are mandatory and law enforcement officers routinely conduct patrols to issue warnings and fines to violators. For now, a vaccine remains the best hope of the country to get rid of the pandemic.

The government unveiled a four-stage vaccination plan late Wednesday, which is set to start after Dec. 11. In the first stage, health care workers, senior citizens, people with disabilities and people living in crowded environments will be inoculated. In the second stage, people working in crucial jobs like law enforcement, those living in high-risk environments and people above the age of 50 who have at least one chronic disease will be vaccinated. The rest of the population will be vaccinated in the subsequent stages based on the grade of risk they are exposed to.