Turkey surpasses 300,000 COVID-19 cases, second vaccine trial set to begin – coronavirus roundup

Turkey records 68 deaths, surpasses 300,000 total COVID-19 cases

A total of 301,348 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Turkey since March 11, when the novel coronavirus was first detected in the country, according to Health Ministry data announced on Saturday.

Turkey's coronavirus figures for Sept. 19
Turkey's coronavirus figures for Sept. 19 source: http://covid19.saglik.gov.tr/


Sixty eight people died between Friday and Saturday evenings, and 1,538 new cases were diagnosed.

Turkey has 27,786 active COVID-19 cases, almost triple the level it had in June 1, when several months of strict pandemic measures were lifted in the hopes of reviving the economy on June 1. A total of 7,445 people have died after contracting the coronavirus to date.

Top Turkish university hospital to start COVID-19 vaccine trials

Istanbul’s Cerrahpaşa Medical School, one of the best in Turkey, will begin phase 3 trials for a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China next week, and another trial for a vaccine developed in Germany will begin on Oct. 1, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Saturday.

The majority of volunteers will be picked from among healthcare workers, Cerrahpaşa Dean Sait Gönen told Cumhuriyet. The vaccines will be tested on a total of 500 people among the two studies.

“We are hopeful,” Devrim Sarıbal, a doctor who volunteered for the study said. “There is no other method of protection. We are not concerned”

Southeastern Turkish province cancels leaves for healthcare staff

A public university hospital in the southeastern Turkish province of Malatya has cancelled administrative leaves for 26 healthcare professionals who had chronic conditions, daily Evrensel reported on Saturday.

Two of the 26 people have contracted COVID-19 since. Healthcare staff with chronic conditions had been on leave for five months as they were at increased risk of complications from the coronavirus pandemic, and were ordered to go back to work in early September due to a lack of enough personnel at shifts, provincial co-chair of healthcare workers’ union SES Sakine Doğan told Evrensel.

Izmir doctors organize demonstration to end week of protests

The Izmir Chamber of Medicine (ITO) held a demonstration and a press statement on Friday, capping off a week of protests organized by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

The Turkish government has not been transparent while handling the pandemic, ITO Chairman Lütfi Çamlı said, reading a statement.

The Health Ministry has been treating provincial public health councils “as a way to approve their political decisions,” and has ignored science, TTB Central Council Member Mübeccel İlhan said in a later speech.

“Authorities waited for the virus to reach the hospitals,” and did not take precautions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in the first place, İlhan said. “We are going down in history as we say we can fight a pandemic by treatment.”

Istanbul to implement staggered shifts to combat COVID-19

Some public servants in Istanbul will start to work on a staggered shift schedule to reduce overcrowding on public transport, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya told reporters on Friday.

Among the public servants included in the shift schedule are the provincial police, gendarmerie and coastguard.

“Metropolitan and district municipalities will have their shifts between 08:00-16:30, healthcare units between 08:30-16:30, and all other public offices between 09:00-17:30,” Yerlikaya said, starting on Monday, Sept. 21. Gendarmerie, police and coastguard units will stagger their shifts to start at various times between 07:00 and 09:00.

Mass Transit Scientific Council Chairman Mustafa Ilıcalı said 60 percent of public transport users were not public employees, and if staggering efforts were to work, they would need to include the private sector as well.

COVID-19 positive patients told to take public transport home

A dentist working as a contact tracer in Turkish capital Ankara told daily BirGün that the Health Ministry is treating some patients “like VIPs,” while telling many others who tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus to take public transport home where they would remain in isolation and receive treatment over the phone and in doctor’s visits.

Some patients end up having to wait several days for contact tracers to arrive, the dentist who wished to remain anonymous for safety said.

Almost all diagnoses now require CT scans, as the tests administered at hospitals “can have an accuracy of 40 percent or less,” a CT technician at another hospital in the capital said.

A lab technician said the masks they were provided with “had no middle layer for filtration,” an extreme risk that was also voiced by textile engineer Erkan İşgören last week.

Tests administered in retirement homes, factories and soldiers’ barracks have been returning 60 percent positive, the technician said.