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Turkish Health Minister Believes Lockdown Reducing New Infections, Hospitalizations

Turkey’s ongoing 17-day lockdown is paying off with falling COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations, said the Turkish health minister on Monday.

“I am convinced that this complete lockdown will ensure a rapid decrease in the number of cases. We have already observed a decrease in the number of cases and hospitalized patients,” Fahrettin Koca told reporters in the northwestern province of Edirne.

“I know we will witness a similar trend in the number of patients in critical condition and fatalities,” he added.

He stressed that they sincerely believe that things are getting better, saying: “We are showing a great example of national sacrifice during this troubled period. I believe that we will definitely see the gains of this soon.

The fight will be won together. As long as we remain united, there is no reason why we should not win.”

He denied claims that the number of tests was cut to show fewer cases.

“These claims are baseless and ill-intentioned. Tests, as usual, are done on those who show symptoms of the virus. The falling trend has something to do with the nationwide lockdown,” Koca added.

He urged people to get their jabs, which are being provided free of charge by the state.

“By the end of June, we want to vaccinate our citizens over age 40, we’re committed to this, and we also want to vaccinate our citizens over age 18 and our young people during the summer.

“So now we’re talking about 240 million vaccines in total. 100 million of them are (Chinese) Sinovac … With a number of positive developments in the coming days, we estimate that (these vaccine) shipments can start again this month.”

“Apart from this, 50 million doses of the (Russian) Sputnik V vaccine were agreed to be delivered over six months, as well as a contract for BioNTech in the form of 90 million doses, up from 30 million.

“I can tell you the amount that has become clear in the form of 30 million doses in June. Thus, within three or four months – that is, the summer – we’re trying to vaccinate all our citizens age 18 and over,” said Koca.

On the Sputnik V vaccine, Koca said: “We expect the first shipment in May. In a week or two, that will be clear. As with all vaccines, safety tests will be carried out quickly after they arrive, and then vaccination will start as soon as possible.”

On Turkey’s locally made COVID-19 vaccine, being developed by Erciyes University in the central Kayseri province, he said: “Phase 2 tests of this vaccine on volunteers are over, and they are currently being evaluated. Phase 3 will be finished within one or two weeks”.

“I would like to say that if this process continues successfully, as we plan, this vaccine can go into use in September,” said Koca.

Turkey has so far administered nearly 23.5 million coronavirus vaccine jabs since a nationwide immunization campaign began on Jan. 14. More than 14 million people have received their first dose, while over 9.44 million people have been fully vaccinated.

To stem the spread of the virus, Turkey last week started a nationwide lockdown which will last until May 17.

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