Turkish Health Minister Says Schools Will Never Close Despite Heavy COVID-19 Infections
ANKARA, Sept.28 (Reuters) – Turkey will ‘never’ close schools again despite a recent rise in COVID-19 infections and the government is considering various methods to continue education in person, the health minister said Fahrettin Koca.
After months of online classes during the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey reopened its schools this month, while removing most restrictions over the summer. He also started asking teachers for a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination and also for some public events.
Daily infections in Turkey have increased over the past month at a rate higher than most peer countries to just under 30,000 per day, as have average positive tests, according to global data.
Daily deaths, which have risen to around 250 this month, have declined slightly and Turkey’s population-based vaccination rate is higher than most peers.
Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Koca said that a quarter of coronavirus cases detected since schools reopened were in people under the age of 17. But the priority was to continue the classes in person under all conditions, he said.
“I said we would keep the schools open this year under all circumstances. It’s not about being the last to close, they should never close,” state broadcaster TRT Haber said, citing Koca .
He said Ankara was also considering education options, including weekend classes and other methods. Turkey will keep shopping centers open.
Some 52% of Turks received two vaccines as part of a national program that administered more than 108 million vaccines. More than 63,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Turkey, according to the World Health Organization.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, edited by Daren Butler and Angus MacSwan
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