Roundup: Türkiye faces looming wave of COVID-19 infections as cases in Europe surge

by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- Turkish health authorities and experts have warned that Türkiye might face another wave of COVID-19 infections within a few weeks due to the rising number of cases in Europe.

According to a report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, 15 European countries are witnessing increasing cases. It's the first spike in coronavirus cases across the region since the latest BA.5 wave began.

The COVID-19 waves in Europe have often signaled future increases in Türkiye.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters last week that the surges in Europe "usually affect Türkiye within three to four weeks" and they anticipated that Türkiye would have a similar increase in infections.

Vedat Bulut, secretary general of the Turkish Medical Association, said that in the past, most coronavirus subvariants in Türkiye came from European port cities and this trend may repeat.

"A pandemic today spreads much faster than ever, as the ways of transportation are various and faster," he told Xinhua.

The expert warned that as the pandemic has not been over, and combined with the seasonal flu, fatalities may increase in Türkiye and other countries.

Erdinc Kara, a general practitioner in Türkiye's capital Ankara, said that more patients with COVID-related symptoms had come to seek treatment since the start of this week.

"People will be more indoors and that's a risk of spreading coronavirus. People should be prepared for immunity-dodging variants which may fuel an autumn-winter wave," he told Xinhua.

"Even if we have now efficient vaccines, the coronavirus is a resilient and serious threat to human health, and it is still causing deaths," he added.

Nurdan Kokturk, a specialist in pulmonary diseases at Ankara's Gazi University Faculty of Medicine, warned that if citizens fail to comply with established hygiene rules, "the winter season will be very harsh."

"Schools have reopened, and pulmonary illnesses have resurfaced in a worrying trend. We all have a duty to protect ourselves," she told the local press.

"It is proved that vaccines are very efficient to combat COVID-19 worldwide, therefore people should get their booster shots for efficient immunity, otherwise things may go upside down," this physician added.

Koca also said vaccination is the "most important measure" the public can take to fend off the virus. The minister called on elderly citizens and people at risk with chronic illnesses to get their booster shots without delay.

Since the first case was reported in Türkiye in March 2020, over 101,000 people have died, while the total number of cases amounts to a total of 16.8 million, according to official statistics.

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