Turkish medical body says Turkey may face COVID-19 'tsunami'

(Updates with TTB report)

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Monday that Turkey may face a new wave of the coronavirus pandemic with the flu season in the fall and winter, Deutsche Welle reported.

"As TTB, we have warned before. We have stated that this is not a good thing, and that if no action is taken, we could enter the flu season with a very high number of patients in September," the group said in its report on the sixth month of the pandemic.

"Now a tsunami awaits us ahead of us. We are entering this period with a high contagion pool," TTB said.

The medical group also criticised the Turkish government’s measures to tackle the spread of country’s COVID-19 and accused Ankara of hiding the real number of those infected with the deadly virus.

Many in Turkey, where infections and deaths linked to the coronavirus soared in recent weeks, believe the government has employed superficial methods aimed at serving as window-dressing and preserving its own interests.

Meanwhile, the Turkish government may introduce new restrictions to counter Turkey’s growing coronavirus infection rate at a cabinet meeting late on Monday, Patronlar Dünyası reported.

Tightening measures or imposing restrictions in closed and crowded places, such as shopping malls, markets and parks, are under consideration, the Turkish business news website said on Monday. Stricter punishments for those who do not comply with social distancing measures and wear medical masks, as well as those who violate the quarantine, may also be approved, it said.

Turkish coronavirus infections have begun to spike on a daily basis after falling to as low as 902 on July 22. Medical professionals have criticised the government for lifting the restrictions too early in June and allowing the infection to spread due to a lack of necessary precautions.

The cabinet meeting, which will be chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, follows restrictions imposed earlier in this month, including mandatory use of face masks in all public areas and banning music after midnight at restaurants, cafes, hotels and recreational facilities.

“Unfortunately, our people did not pay serious attention to our warnings,” Erdoğan told reporters after Friday prayers in Istanbul.

“We saw that the number of cases decreased in the provinces that paid attention. When we relaxed a little, we saw that the number of cases began to increase suddenly, especially in Ankara and Istanbul. Now we have to squeeze (measures) again.”

The Turkish Health Ministry recorded 1,519 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. Daily cases have remained above 1,500 infections each day since Aug. 30. The official death toll rose by 61 to 7,506.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the number of seriously ill patients rose to 1,456.

“Even though the rate of increase has slowed down, we cannot be calm until this number decreases,” he said on Twitter.

The ministry said 95,321 tests were administered in the 24 hours to Sunday evening and 1,116 patients recovered.