Turkey needs to ease COVID-19 restrictions gradually, scientists warn

Prominent Turkish scientists have warned that Turkey needs to ease its COVID-19 restrictions gradually as the country is set to extend a normalisation process in June, Hürriyet newspaper said on Saturday.
Mehmet Ceyhan, an expert in paediatric infectious diseases at Hacettepe University and member of Turkey’s Coronavirus Scientific Committee, told Hürriyet that reducing the number of COVID-19 cases was vital, but warned that even if the number went down to zero, it would not mean that the public was safe from the virus. 

“This only means that you are safe among those who are tested,” he said. 

Ceyhan said that it was necessary to find and treat asymptomatic cases and that the measures needed to be lifted gradually after Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan which starts tomorrow. 

“If you remove all measures all at once, you will not be able to determine where a problem occurred,” he said.

Tevfik Özlü, another member of the scientific committee, warned that the Turkish public should not expect everything to return to normal in June. 

“Sorry, we don't have a magic wand. Nothing will be the same until the vaccine has been discovered,” he said.

“Domestic and international flights, and intercity bus trips will be able to be taken again, but all under their own rules," he told Hürriyet – citing as an example train services running at 50 percent capacity. 

“There will be no hasty moves. We will normalise gradually,” Özlü said.

Serhat Ünlü, another member of the committee, said it was vital to maintain hygiene and social distancing measures and to keep wearing masks after Eid – and that such measures would have to become a feature of life. 

"If the rules are not followed, the normalisation timetable may be disrupted or become unworkable," he said.