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Turkey to sample test 150,000 to gauge scope of outbreak ahead of easing of lockdown

Turkey ranks eighth in the world for number of confirmed cases [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 May, 2020

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Mass sample testing could gauge the extent of the spread in the country, as well as the carriers and the conditions of patients, Turkey's Health Minister said
Turkey is preparing to test 150,000 citizens to determine how widely the novel coronavirus has spread among the population, the country's health minister said Wednesday. .

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the sample would be done with both PCR tests that are used to detect antigens from viral infections and with antibody tests. He did not say when the testing would begin.

"We want to see the extent of the spread, the carriers and the condition of the patients," Koca said after a meeting with the country’s scientific advisory council.

The Turkish government plans to gradually ease restrictions it imposed during the pandemic. Shopping malls, barber shops and hair salons are set to reopen on Monday.

Koca said that during the next phase of the outbreak, people in Turkey should expect a "controlled social life."

"We are not returning to normal. We are introducing new a new normal into our lives," he said. "The controlled social life will have rules of its own, and we will have get used to these rules and lead a new kind of life."

He added: "The risk continues; losing control will invite a second wave of infections."

The health minister also reported Wednesday that Turkey had 64 virus-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total in the country to 3,584. He also announced 2,253 new confirmed cases, for a total of 131,744. The daily numbers were slightly higher than the death and infection figures reported Tuesday.

Turkey ranks eighth in the world for number of confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins University data, although experts believe the tally around the world is higher than reported.

The Interior Ministry issued guidelines ahead of the expected opening of barber shops and beauty salons. The shops would need to operate on only a by-appointment basis, customers would have to sit apart from each other, and both clients and stylists would be required to wear masks.

Barbers would be able to cut hair but not shave facial hair, the ministry guidelines state.

Read also: Turkey reports lowest Covid-19 deaths in over a
 month


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