Turkey losing the war against Covid-19

Turkey’s weekly regional COVID-19 figures keep increasing and deaths rising as the country maintains more relaxed restrictions for now, according to Associated Press. Health experts claim daily cases could climb beyond 30K, as hospitalizations clog the hospital system.  The economic cost of keeping the economy open, or closing it down once again are rising exponentially with each passing day.


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The country’s official death toll in the pandemic climbed to 30,061 Sunday, when the government reported 102 new deaths. Daily deaths had dropped to an average of 65 the previous two weeks.


Health ministry statistics released late Saturday showed the rate of infection as more than 251 cases per 100,000 in Istanbul, the country’s largest city — up 41% since last week. That means about 40,000 new infections in Istanbul alone, which has quadrupled from numbers first released six weeks ago.


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The government has divided its 81 provinces into four risk categories and said it would evaluate “controlled normalization” efforts at a local level every two weeks. The latest figures show many cities turning “very high-risk” or “high risk.”


Turkey’s president announced this week that relaxed restrictions, like in-restaurant dining and reduced curfews, would continue “for some more time” despite rising infections, but said tougher measures could be brought back.


According to measures announced in early March, weekend curfews remained in place in “very high-risk” cities and Sunday lockdowns continued in “high risk” cities. Restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor dining in all the categories other than “very high-risk,” and nighttime curfews are applied across the country.


The seven-day average of infections across the country has climbed to over 19,000, hitting daily rates last seen in December. The number of patients in critical care and deaths are also rising.


Facing an economic downturn, the government has been under pressure from business owners to resume operations during the pandemic.


However, with only  14 mn citizens out of 85 mn receiving at least one dose of Sinovac vaccine and supplies running out fast, there is no simple way to eradicate the virus without a national lockdown.  The cost are daunting either way. The budget doesn’t have the funds to compensate small businesses and unemployed workers in case of a lockdown.  Keeping the economy open runs the risk of run-away infections durign the summer, jeopardizing the all important tourism season. According to Ministry of Health, Turkey will not reach herd immunity before the end of 2021.


Numerous polls reveal economic distress and the outbreak becoming the primary concerns of voters, which will backfire on Erdogan.


Erdogan’s only hope is rapid arrival of 50 mn does of Chinese vaccine, coupled with 4.5 mn doses of BioNTech jab promised for end of March. So far, the Health Ministry announced schedules have not being kept.



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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.