Donnerstag, 04.06.2020 / 12:56 Uhr

Normalisierung oder zweite Welle? Türkei nach dem Lockdown

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken

Auch in der Türkei stehen Lockerungen der zum Teil heftigen Corona bedingten Beschränkungen an. Die Frage allerdings ist, ob dies zu einer zweiten Welle oder gewissen Normalisierungen führt:

The renewed mobility and reopening of mass gathering areas, such as Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar shopping center, have drawn concern from scientists tracking the pandemic. Emrah Altindis, an assistant biology professor at Boston College, said scaling back social distancing measures could lead to increased infections in the coming weeks.

“There is the possibility we will see what we now see in Iran, which is a second peak in the first wave [of the coronavirus],” Altindis told Al-Monitor. He noted that a lack of transparency regarding pandemic data in Turkey adds uncertainty to the lingering threat posed by COVID-19, saying there is no publicly available information on the age distribution of virus-linked deaths in Turkey.

In addition, Altindis said the reproduction number of new cases, or R0, remains unavailable for individual districts and has been publicized to date strictly as a national average, leaving epidemiologists with few tools to track and verify urban contagion rates.

Altindis also questioned current testing protocols in which tests are mainly conducted on patients showing COVID-19 symptoms. He said tests must be administered more broadly to include apparently healthy individuals and help isolate asymptomatic carriers before they spread the virus unintentionally.

Dr. Tevfik Ozlu, a board member of the Turkish Health Ministry’s Science Council, recently tested 50,000 seemingly healthy individuals in Gebze, a city just east of Istanbul, and found a rate of 0.35% positive tests. Though Ozlu said the results showed the rate of asymptomatic infection was lower than expected, Altindis said the data was cause for concern if similar infection rates were present nationwide.

“If these numbers are true for all of Turkey, it means there are 300,000 people right now who are carrying the virus and transmitting it,” Altindis told Al-Monitor.

As of Wednesday, Turkish health officials have recorded 166,422 coronavirus cases and 4,609 virus-linked deaths in the country.