Rush to return to normalcy could trigger second wave
President Erdogan intends to relax corona restrictions by the end of the holy Month of Ramadan, or even before. Various medical associations warn the public that this would be too early. With Iran, Iraq and Syria still unable to deal with the outbreak, an open Turkey could be exposed to new vectors of infection
President Erdogan is impatient to return the economy “to normal” to take advantage of the crisis in Western countries and to end the massive burden of feeding the unemployed which is forcing Central Bank to print money. He intends to relax corona restrictions by the end of the holy Month of Ramadan, or even before. Various medical associations warn the public that this would be too early. With Iran, Iraq and Syria still unable to deal with the outbreak, an open Turkey could be exposed to new vectors of infection.
Reuters: Turkey targets return to normal toward end of May, Erdogan says
The coronavirus outbreak in Turkey is starting to reach a plateau and the country aims to return to normal life after the end of Ramadan in late May, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.
Cases of the COVID-19 disease have risen to 90,980 in Turkey, exceeding any country outside Europe and the United States, with the death toll at 2,140. In turn Ankara has adopted increasingly tight measures to curb the spread.
“This pandemic has become the biggest crisis since the Second World War in terms of its economic consequences,” Erdogan was cited as saying at a video conference meeting of his AK Party’s officials.
“This pandemic, which is basically a health problem, has become the biggest crisis after World War II in terms of its economic results,” Erdoğan said, speaking to his party’s Central Execution Board meeting via teleconference.
Especially the “desperation” of the developed countries in the face of such a comprehensive crisis necessitates reconstruction of the world order he claimed proudly.
Mr. Erdogan wants to turn the pandemic into Turkey’s advantage by ending the restrictions early to boost output and steal market share from Turkey’s competitors in export markets, as well as rescue part of the tourism season.
Medical authorities are worried
His optimism may be rash. Turkish Medical Association, branded as a dissident outfit by pro-government media, rejects the view that corona cases are declining or the outbreak is under control. An article in New York Times claimed Turkey is hiding the true number of deaths, a claim echoed by opposition (IYIP) deputy Mr. Cinar. Cinar pointed that March-April death figures in Istanbul and Black city town of Trabzon were statistically higher than the average of lats five years. Furthermore, he claims the Ministry of Health refuses to publish death data from Istanbul and Ankara.
Independent NGOs report outbreaks of Covid-19 in various Marmara region and Izmir Buca correctional facilities, which could spread like a wildfire.
In Syria, Kurdish-held Qamishli already reported one case of corona, with WHO stating that the virus may have already become endemic. In Idlib, there are no confirmed case of the disease, because Damascus refuses to return the results of test samples. Doctors working in refugee camps suspect dozens of cases.
Both of these regions have heavy human and goods traffic with bordering Turkish provinces, meaning lowering the guard could bring in new infectees.
Mr. Erdoğan’s political career can be summarized as turning defeat into victory, but this time it is different. In return for an uncertain economic gain, he may be sacrificing countless human lives, as well as risking a second wave of infections.
Damon H. Grande
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