Turkey, seniors and coronavirus

Turkey eases restrictions on coronavirus for seniors

Experts fear that the end of the restrictions will lead to further outbreaks of the coronavirus due to the relaxation of measures among citizens, as it is already happening in some cities.

The Turkish government announced on Tuesday by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan the easing of restrictions on going out for seniors over 65 and minors, who had limited their days out due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As explained by the Turkish President, some 7.5 million people over 65 who had limited weekly exits since March 21 can from now on go out on the streets every day between 10:00 and 20:00; the restrictions imposed since April 4 on minors have also been lifted, although children must be accompanied by their parents.

These relaxation measures are part of the end of most of the restrictions that entered into force on June 1 in Turkey, where authorities have reopened from restaurants to mosques (where mass prayers were prohibited). In this regard, Erdoğan -who announced that cinemas and theatres will reopen on July 1- warned that citizens should get used to the “new normality“, go out with a mask and maintain social distance.

The Turkish President also announced a series of incentives to boost employment and support companies and industries, in order to revive the economy and production after the impact caused by the stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concern about a possible spike in cases

Despite the entry into force of de-escalation measures in the country, as the number of active cases has already dropped below 30,000 infections, authorities and experts are concerned about the perception among many citizens that the risk of the coronavirus has past, which could lead to further outbreaks of the epidemic.

Members of the Turkish Ministry of Health and Scientific Council had predicted that the number of daily infections would drop to around 500 since the end of May, but the latest data confirms that the number of new infections ranges from 800 to 900 a day, somewhat that many experts consider that it is due to a relaxation of security measures by citizens, who in many cases fail to comply with them.

In fact, among many citizens on the street or even on social media, the false perception -encouraged by the publication of certain news in the media- that the virus has weakened, that the hot summer weather will prevent infections, or that the pandemic will end very soon, is leading many people to stop being rigorous with habits such as the use of masks, hand cleaning or social distance.

The most recent example is the one that has occurred in the city of Diyarbakır, the largest in southeast Turkey, where more than 300 new infections have been detected in just a week, triggering all alarms among experts, who fear a second wave of the coronavirus in a city where the reduction of cases had been achieved precisely thanks to the strict measures imposed in March, so this could force the reinstatement of restrictions.