The Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, had a video conference with the World Health Organization's Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge. In the meeting, the two discussed the rise in cases in the European region, the new mutation, the current situation in Turkey and vaccine development efforts.
Kluge thanked Turkey for following WHO's recommendations and continued, "President Erdoğan's activities and leadership are appreciated by all countries. I would like to congratulate you on your strong data and information system. And also for expanding genome sequencing efforts, vaccine development and rapid diagnostic kit efforts."
Sharing the latest data and noting the fall in the number of cases, Minister Koca added,
"Right now, the number of cases are rising in Europe while the situation is the opposite in Turkey. We do not compromise on rapid testing, isolation and contact-tracing. The number of contact-tracing teams is 16 thousand and each team is made up of 3 people. We do not even have 16 thousand cases per day. So, there is less than 1 patient for each team. We do not want to reduce this number because the next 2 to 3 months are vital. We do not want to reduce the number of contact-tracing teams unless we have widespread vaccination. The bed capacity is at a desirable level. The number of unoccupied beds increase every day."
Koca and Kluge exchanged views on the new mutation reported by the UK and agreed upon sharing information on this concerning development. Minister Koca stressed that they were closely following the situation and did their best to prevent the mutation's entry into Turkey, and continued, "We have imposed some flight restrictions to the countries where the mutation was detected and introduced quarantine measures for those arriving from these countries. I would like to note that this mutation was found in 15 individuals, who are under quarantine. In the coming period, we will ramp up sequencing of cases and keep on sharing the results to contribute to global cooperation."
Kluge said there was no indication that the mutation increased mortality or caused more severe disease but that it was much more infectious. Kluge added that for that reason, WHO was recommending ramping up public health measures and vaccination.