The recent spike in the number of daily confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey prompted Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to issue yet another warning to the public that the outbreak is far from over.
“The figures [from June 13] made us face the reality that the outbreak remains a serious matter,” Koca said on Twitter on June 14.
Data from the Health Ministry showed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases stood at nearly 1,200 on June 12 and more than 1,400 on June 13 after hovering around 800 or 900 in the previous weeks.
“We are strong enough to not backtrack and have enough experience with measures [against the outbreak],” Koca wrote, reminding the public to adhere to the rules of the “controlled life” with face masks and social distancing.
In an earlier tweet, Kosa said that the spike in the cases is a warning for those who do not comply with the measures [against the disease].
“It is also a warning to all of us,” he said.
The recent increase in the number of cases also alarmed the experts at the Health Ministry’s Science Board, even though they said the spike was not totally unforeseen in the wake of the easing of restrictions.
“The cases had been on the rise over the past two days. This is a wake-up call. We cannot act as if the outbreak was over and we had returned to pre-pandemic days,” said Professor Tevfik Özlü from the Coronavirus Science Board.
According to Özlü, if the cases continue to rise then the introduction of some measures could be necessary. “Those steps may not be the same as the ones previously imposed,” he added.
Associate Professor Sema Kultufan Turan from the Science Board noted that a spike in the number of cases was expected after June 1 when the country started to ease measures initially imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We knew that we would see the impact of the easing of measures within 10 to 15 days. We need to raise the awareness among the public,” she said.
This is not the new wave of the outbreak, according to Professor Hakan Oğuztürk at the Ankara City Hospital.
“Change in the weather as well as optimistic expectations have somehow made people complacent. The easing of restrictions evokes a belief that ‘there are no serious problems’,” he elaborated.
The number of cases from the past two to three days are not indicative, Oğuztürk said, adding that data to come out on June 15, June 16 and June 17 will be crucial. “Those are the critical dates,” he added.