As Turkey braces for a normalization process in March, the country’s most crowded metropolis Istanbul hopes to join others in lifting restrictions. The city, which has long been a hub of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases, has witnessed a considerable drop. The latest figures from the first two weeks of February show there are now around 60 patients per population of 100,000 people. The city’s top health authority hails a decline in workload at the hospitals. “Our hospitals are now back to their normal function,” professor Kemal Memişoğlu, head of the Directorate of Health for Istanbul said on Monday.
Memişoğlu also assured the public that the number of patients suffering from virus variants, which prompted concerns in other cities, was not high. “There is no need to panic,” he said.
Based on the number of cases in each of the 81 provinces and progress in the vaccination drive, Turkey will gradually lift restrictions locally next month. These include curfews and the closure of businesses like restaurants and cafes. Istanbul, a commercial hub where more than 15 million people reside, was among the first cities to report coronavirus cases back in March 2020. Tight restrictions and mandatory mask-wearing helped it to curb the numbers which once constituted 40% of all cases in the country.