SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 27 October 2021, Wednesday |

Turkish Health Minister says schools will never close despite high COVID-19 infections

Despite a recent increase of COVID-19 infections, Turkey will “never” close schools again, and the government is considering alternative measures to keep in-person education alive, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Turkey reopened schools this month after months of online lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite lifting most restrictions over the summer. It also started requiring teachers to submit a negative PCR test or proof of immunization for certain public activities.

According to worldwide data, Turkey’s daily infections have climbed at a faster rate than most peer countries in the last month, to slightly under 30,000 per day, as have average positive tests.

Daily deaths have decreased marginally from approximately 250 this month, and Turkey’s population-based immunization rate is higher than most peers.

After a cabinet meeting on Monday, Koca told reporters that a fifth of coronavirus cases discovered since schools reopened were among children under the age of 17. However, he stated that the objective was to maintain in-person classes under any circumstances.

“I have said that we will keep schools open this year under any circumstances. It’s not about being the last to close, they should never close,” state broadcaster TRT Haber quoted Koca as saying.

He said Ankara was also mulling education options including weekend classes and other methods. Turkey will keep shopping malls open.

Some 52% of Turks have received two vaccine shots under a national programme that has administered more than 108 million jabs. More than 63,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, according to the World Health Organization.