Experts were cautious when Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced that new decisions on masks could be taken, including in schools, at the meeting of the scientific council next week: “What are we going to do to protect people at risk?
again Minister Koca during his visit to Sakarya on April 14. “Don’t worry, our worst days are over, be careful” mentioned. Koca said the scientific committee will meet for one of its most important meetings next week, and decisions will be made in particular regarding the mask (including its use in schools). It is considered certain that this soufflé from Koca will affect the decisions to be made by the scientific committee.
Minister Koca once again gave heartwarming messages in a speech on January 29 “As your Minister of Health, I say loud and clear that the rising number of cases should not scare you. Don’t worry, the disease isn’t as bad as it used to be.” he said.
From this speech from January 29 to April 14, according to official figures, a total of 11,643 people died from Covid-19. If we start the calendar from January 1, the total death toll is 16,153.
The fifth wave, which began with the spread of Omicron in Turkey, peaked on February 2-8. The highest number of cases per day reached 111 thousand 157. It then went into decline. In its seventh week, the number of cases fell to 14,364. The number of deaths rose in the same wave, starting January 12, 19 days after the increase in cases. The daily death toll peaked at 309 on February 15. It started to decline from February 25. When we got to April 14, it was recorded that 21 people died.
Prime Minister Koca gives a signal, then the decision is made.
A few days before the scientific council meeting on March 2, Koca again signaled that the measures would be relaxed.
Although the relaxation of the measures was discussed a lot in the scientific committee, the political will said what it said and the new era was declared. The requirement to use masks in closed areas where social distancing can be enforced and where appropriate ventilation conditions are available has been removed.
The obligation to use masks continued in closed places such as schools, hospitals, cinemas, theaters, where the necessary social distance could not be ensured, and in all types of public transport vehicles such as buses, minibuses, shuttles, trains, subways, ferries, and planes.
It has been decided not to question the HEPP code of those who will enter certain areas such as malls, theatres, carpet locations or use public transport vehicles such as buses, trains and planes. The requirement for a PCR test before air travel has been removed. Experts had deemed it premature to ease the measures as the pandemic continued.
“Are we sacrificing the at-risk group?‘
Minister Koca’s latest speech again underlined the easing decisions on the road. Lung Disease Specialist Assoc. Dr. Haluk Calisir, showing the dead “We have to ask their families, is there anything to worry about?” He asked.
Diseases circulate between schools and homes. The Covid-19 vaccine is not yet applied to children under 12 in Turkey. Children transmit diseases from school to home and from home to school.
They can transmit Covid-19 to the at-risk group at home (such as the elderly, people undergoing cancer treatment, the immunocompromised, diabetics and the obese).
works“For those in the at-risk group, life is not going the way the minister said. Are we going to abandon them as a society? He asked.
‘Masks must be maintained in schools‘
Stating that removing masks in schools would not be the right step, Calisir said: “There were countries that took the masks off, but as the disease subsided, it started to climb again. Masks must be worn indoors. Vaccination, mask wearing and ventilation remain important in disease prevention.
Surgical masks in closed and crowded environments are not sufficient to protect with Omicron, N95-FFP2 masks must be worn. They do not need to be changed 2-3 times a day. It can be used multiple times. You cannot tell if the ventilation of an environment is adequate without measuring it with appropriate devices. Unfortunately, no action has been taken so far for this.
‘How does it fall so quickly when the measures are lifted?‘
In the report on the current situation and recommendations of the Association of Public Health Specialists (HASUDER) in the Covid-19 pandemic, Res. To see. Dr. Eylul Tutal Altas and Prof. Dr. Gül Ergör compared the descent from the peak in April 2021 with the descent from the peak in February 2022.
The descent in 2022 occurred at a much higher rate than in 2021. Experts, who pointed out that the rate of decline in cases had increased further with the removal of the HES control application and the easing of rules for the use of masks on March 2, “This rapid rate of decline is inexplicable as the measures are lifted” mentioned.
Data is not shared transparently
Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health, Lecturer Prof. Dr. Tuğrul Erbaydar said that many details and data about the pandemic were not shared transparently by the Ministry of Health.
Stating that everyone has the right to know the data, Erbaydar said: “Decisions are made when the data is not available. We think the data is hidden because we don’t want to discuss it. Decisions can be made by political and economic concerns, not by the demands and priorities of science or public health. We wonder why the measures were lifted.
Recalling that each country’s pandemic control is unique and different, the professor said: “It is not right to abandon measures by taking the example of countries with more effective vaccines and higher vaccination rates than ours. Our decisions must be consistent with our own data and circumstances. For example, do we know that there is no more contagion in schools in Turkey, so we are talking about removing the masks. The vaccine has not yet reached the age of 12. Is Covid-19 infection no longer circulating among children?
The message “The pandemic is over, no problem” is wrong‘
According to data from the Ministry of Health, the rate of those who are fully vaccinated is 63% in the population over the age of 18. The rate of those who have completed the vaccination is 43.3%. The majority of people in the risk group were vaccinated with the first inactivated vaccine, Sinovac. Sinovac is not effective against new variants. The protection period has passed.
Erbaydar told the company under these conditions,The pandemic is over, no problem! criticized the delivery of the message. “Realistic Risk Assessment” The teacher said: “Especially for people who are unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated or vaccinated only with an inactivated vaccine, the level of risk must be defined. To paint a picture rosy’Thank God we survived the pandemic Disclosures will result in the cessation of vaccination. Yes, Omicron is not a big risk today. But we have no contract with the virus for later. We make all our investments and projections only according to the right scenario.
‘Let’s not pretend it’s over ’til it’s over‘
Recalling that new variants that can evade immunity developed by vaccination or infection and cause severe infections may emerge, Erbaydar said it is necessary to be prepared for medium and severe case scenarios: “Mutations happen by chance. We don’t know what scenarios will happen. I think that masks are still necessary in closed and poorly ventilated places, especially in public transport where you breathe the same air for a long time. Recommending people to wear masks in closed areas does not disrupt the economy, social psychology or education. We all want the pandemic process to end. But now that it’s not over, it’s important to maintain awareness instead of pretending it’s over.