Istanbul, coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus infections in Turkey soar above 20,000

Scientists warn that the British strain of the coronavirus is becoming dominant. Experts warn that Istanbul is in a new wave of the pandemic.

Turkey registered in the last 24 hours its highest rate of infections in practically the last three months, with 20,049 new positive cases of coronavirus, according to the most recent data published by the Ministry of Health, which confirms a worrying upward trend in the number of infections that could derail plans to gradually ease restrictions.

The data published yesterday represents the highest number of infections since December 20, 2020, when 20,316 positives were reported in a single day; this increase in infections for now is not translating into a greater number of hospitalisations and deaths (in the last 24 hours there were 81 new deaths from COVID-19), but experts warn that variants of the virus such as the UK strain are spreading quickly.

In early March, the government introduced a series of measures to ease restrictions in the provinces with the lowest incidence of the virus, which included the reopening of schools, restaurants and cafes, as well as the relaxation of curfews. However, the latest data seems to predict that the restrictions will be applied again, especially in large cities such as Istanbul, Ankara or İzmir.

Experts attribute this notable increase in infections in recent days to three factors: greater mobility due to the lifting of restrictions, a relaxation in the precautionary measures of the population derived from the aforementioned easing of restrictions, and the spread of new, more contagious variants of SARS-CoV-2, especially the British strain.

Istanbul faces a new wave of the pandemic

A study carried out in Istanbul by a group of scientists and published in Turkish media, claims in fact that the British variant of the coronavirus is spreading “rapidly” throughout Turkey. After examining the genome sequences of several samples, these experts found the D614G mutation in 44% of the laboratory samples analysed, making the virus much more contagious.

According to this group of scientists, the British strain could end up becoming the dominant one in Turkey and could already be behind the unusual increase in infections in the provinces of the Black Sea region, due to the high degree of spread of this variant. Regarding the rumours and information about the appearance of a variant coming from Argentina, the experts consulted said that for now there is no evidence in this regard.

Scientists such as Serap Şimşek Yavuz, member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Council on Coronavirus, do confirm is that the increase in coronavirus infections in Turkey and especially in Istanbul – which in recent days has been classified as a very high-risk province – allow us to affirm that this metropolis of 16 million inhabitants is going through a new wave of the pandemic and that it is still far from the peak of the contagion curve.