Turkey, coronavirus cases by province

Turkey begins to offer data on coronavirus cases by province

From now on, the Turkish Ministry of Health will offer data on infections by the pandemic by provinces.

The Turkish Ministry of Health began offering data on new coronavirus cases for each province on Monday, providing the number of positives per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 7 days: an initiative that is part of the new control measures for the COVID-19 pandemic, seeking to adopt a more local approach, and also ease restrictions based on the evolution of the virus in each province.

“From now on we will announce the number of cases in the last 7 days at the beginning of each week,” announced the Turkish Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, through his official Twitter account. As of February 15, the total number of deaths in the Eurasian country since the start of the pandemic is 27,562 people, and infections are around 8,000 daily cases.

According to the map published by the Ministry of Health on its website, which shows the new positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants between February 8 and 14 province, Istanbul – the most populous province in Turkey – registers a rate of 60.19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, while Ankara registers 35.49 and in İzmir the rate is 44.39.

Concern about contagions in the Black Sea

In view of the contagion map, the situation in the eastern provinces of the Black Sea and especially in Trabzon, which leads the ranking of contagions in the country with more than 228 positives per 100,000 inhabitants during the past week, is particularly worrying.

After Trabzon are the provinces of Rize (202.44) and Ordu (194.42), both also in the same region. In contrast, the Turkish provinces with the fewest cases are Şırnak and Hakkari, both in southeast of Anatolia, with 7.82 and 9.55 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively.

The reasons behind this higher incidence of the virus in the Eastern Black Sea provinces are not clear, although it is partly explained by the greater social mobility of the population in the area despite the mountains that characterise the region. “People here relax as the number of cases falls, we are not very cautious,” says Haşim Islamoğlu, a Trabzon resident, in statements made to the DHA agency.

“It all depends on people abiding by the rules. I see other people wearing a mask, but they wear it below the chin; others leave their noses uncovered,” says Oğuz Şişman, another resident of the area, who attributes the increase in infections to “good weather ”. “In winter (the weather) has been like summer, and people run to go outside, to the parks, to the streets. They ignore the social distance and the mask… Now, we suffer it”, he concludes.

“As soon as the (daily) curfew ends, people go out massively, as if it was a reward for them for enduring the curfew. Even before the weekend curfew (which prohibits going out from Friday to Monday) begins, people travel to their villages, as if there were no cases there. The measures are not followed especially in the villages”, comments another local resident.

Reopening of restaurants and cafes?

In light of the data on the evolution of the pandemic in Turkey, which appears to be relatively good, authorities in Turkey are already considering lifting some restrictions; this is a new phase in the fight against the virus that has been dubbed as “decision on the ground”, and in which provincial health committees – which will be the ones that will decide whether or not to relax certain measures – will gain special importance.

Within this possible de-escalation that has already been a hot topic for weeks, and in which the data provided by provinces that have begun to be publicly offered play a key role, the Ministry of Health is also considering the partial reopening of restaurants and cafes, that since November can only serve food to take away or for home deliveries.

According to this new scenario, restaurants and cafes could resume their activity by opening at 30% of their capacity and customers being able to stay for a maximum of 45 minutes in the provinces and districts of Turkey where the number of coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 descend. If this measure – on which the health committees of each province will have the last word – is applied, the relaxation of this and other restrictions would be a “reward” for the areas whose inhabitants comply more with the measures against the pandemic.