Istanbul, infections during COVID pandemic

Coronavirus: Turkey reduces quarantine period and PCR tests

Positives will keep 7 days of quarantine, but their contacts will not if they are vaccinated. PCRs will only be done with COVID symptoms.

Turkey has reduced the rules and the quarantine period for people positive or who have been in contact with infected by coronavirus, while PCR tests will be carried out only on those people who present symptoms of COVID-19, as announced yesterday by the Minister of Country Health, Fahrettin Koca.

Although Turkey is going through an unprecedented wave of infections due to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, with 77,722 new positives registered only yesterday (figures never reached in the pandemic), the minister himself acknowledged yesterday that the new strain is less severe and has a much lower hospitalisation rate than its predecessors: specifically, Koca pointed out that although infections have multiplied by 4 in the last month, hospitalisations due to COVID have only grown by 10%.

“We have seen more hospitalisations with fewer infections in previous waves of the pandemic. It appears that the Omicron variant will reduce the danger of the pandemic,” Koca said after attending a meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Committee. Data from the Turkish Ministry of Health indicate that at the end of December, when daily cases were around 20,000, there were about 145 daily deaths from COVID-19; however, the number of deaths has remained at similar figures for weeks, despite the evident upward trend in cases.

Among the measures announced after the Scientific Advisory Committee meeting are the decision not to require quarantine measures for people who have received 3 doses of the vaccine and have been in contact with coronavirus positives. In addition, “all positive cases may end their isolation after 7 days,” announced the minister, echoing the same quarantine period that other countries are already doing.

It has also been established after the meeting that people who have been in contact with coronavirus positives will not have to undergo PCR tests. “From now on, PCR tests will only be performed on people showing symptoms,” confirmed Koca.

Study confirms efficiency of Turkish COVID vaccine

In addition to speaking about the new rules that will apply to quarantine and tests, the minister also referred to the Turkovac vaccine developed in Turkey, which has been being administered since the end of December as a booster dose; scientific studies carried out by Hacettepe University in Ankara say that Turkovac is 50% more effective than the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine in preventing coronavirus infections: thus, only 4.55% of the 1,182 study volunteers inoculated with two doses of Turkovac were infected, compared to 8.96% of those who received two doses of CoronaVac.