Experts and officials are concerned that the public’s changing perception of the coronavirus outbreak may lead to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Health Ministry officials and experts at the Science Board had predicted that the daily confirmed cases would decline to around 500 in the weeks following the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which took place at the end of May.
However, the daily cases have been fluctuating around between 800 to 900 lately.
In line with the government’s push for normalization, more restrictions were eased on June 1. Restaurants, cafes and parks were reopened and travel restrictions were lifted. And for the first time since mid-April, no curfew was imposed for 15 cities last weekend.
But experts reckon that people are developing some rather false ideas about the outbreak, probably leading to complacent behavior among the public.
People appear to believe that the virus is weakening, the hot weather will prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that the outbreak will end soon, officials and experts told Hürriyet daily.
Because of those false perceptions, people are not adhering to hygiene, social distancing and other rules.
In the face of this, the government, however, does not consider rolling back the steps taken towards normalization but plans to tighten inspections to ensure that rules are observed. It also plans to launch a campaign, which will involve scientists and media outlets, to urge the public to heed the rules.
Meanwhile President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeated a call on people to wear face masks, stick to all hygiene and social distancing rules.
“We have relaxed restrictions. But this does not mean that the outbreak is over. We need to follow instructions from members of the Science Board,” Erdoğan said in a televised interview on June 8.
“There are around 625 patients in intensive care units [ICU]. We want to see much fewer patients in ICUs,” he added.
Reports from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır showed that worries are not unfounded.
Diyarbakır is facing a “second wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, local officials said, adding that the number of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 jumped to 300 in just a week.
The two pandemic hospitals in the province have already reached their capacity, so the newly infected patients have to be isolated at their homes.
“After the Eid holiday and the normalization phase, people have started relaxing. This is the reason for the rise in the number of cases,” warned Prof. Dr. Recep Tekin, the coordinator of the COVID-19 Unit at Dicle University Hospital.