Istanbul, masks during coronavirus pandemic

”This summer will be the last in which we use a mask”

Containment measures and vaccines have significantly reduced infections in Turkey. Masks may no longer be mandatory in September.

This will be the last summer in which we use a mask, Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said yesterday, reporting on the latest data on the incidence of the coronavirus in the country, which has dropped drastically thanks to lockdown measures and vaccines.

Koca’s statements came during an online press conference after a meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Council, in which he explained that Turkey has managed to reduce daily infections from the 60,000 cases a day that were registered at the end of April, to about 6,000 in the last week; so, the minister considers that the time has come for Turkey to start a new period towards new normal after the harsh restrictions of recent weeks.

Koca, however, wanted to remain cautious, especially due to what happened in previous periods of normalisation, in which the rapid relaxation of the measures ended up triggering again the infections and the incidence of COVID-19. “We should not throw away the hard-won results of the periods of confinement, trying to immediately return to our old way of life. We have to remember that the virus is still among us,” he said.

“We have to remember that personal precautions will play a much more important role from now on. We must try to regain normal life while taking our own precautions. This will be the last summer in which our faces will be perspiring with masks put on them”, assured the minister.

“Please get the vaccine”

“We can begin to put this pandemic behind us after this summer if we continue with our vaccination campaign. For that to happen, I have a request for you: please get the vaccine,” Koca insisted.

According to the latest data provided by the Ministry of Health, the incidence rate of the coronavirus in Turkey during the past week fell to 89 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Istanbul, while in Ankara it was 115 and in İzmir it was only 47; furthermore, all 81 provinces of Turkey have incidence rates below 200.

Hatay, with only 12 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, is the province with the lowest incidence of the virus, followed by its neighbours Adana and Osmaniye. All these figures are considerably better if we take into account that the Black Sea region once had contagion rates above 600.

On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan himself assured that the end of the mask could be near and that it would cease to be mandatory as long as a social distance of at least five feet is maintained. Health experts agree that this summer may be the last in which a mask is used in Turkey, and that from September it could no longer be mandatory.