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Turkey braces for new school year amid Covid

IANS | August 14, 2021 12:03 PM

ANAKRA:   As Turkish parents and students are eagerly waiting for the return of in-person classes from September, authorities are considering to lower the age limit for Covid-19 vaccination in the wake of a resurgence.

The main topic of conversation among parents these days is, without a doubt, if the schools are going to reopen as planned to face-to-face education in the first week of September, Xinhua news agency reported.

The summer vacation season and a long Muslim holiday in late July have caused massive mobility among the population, which contributed to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Daily coronavirus cases are hovering at around 25,000, which is over five times higher than the numbers recorded before the start of a normalization process on July 1.

So far, Turkey has administered about 80 million doses of vaccine. However, only 36 per cent of the entire population is fully inoculated with a two-dose course, which is about half of the 70 per cent target to reach herd immunity in the country with 83 million population.

The nation has recently lowered the age of eligibility to the vaccine to 16, and further measures may be taken until September, according to experts.

Professor Sema Turan, a member of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Committee, told reporters on Friday that officials are considering widening the scope of the inoculation drive to children aged between 12 and 15 before the opening of schools.

"We aim to reopen the schools on September 6 as already planned, and our priority is to provide the necessary support to make the resumption of in-class education possible," Turan added.

While officials are still assessing how the education system is going to be back on track, Turkey has appointed Mahmut Ozer as new Education Minister.

"I will be doing everything to open the schools in September," the new Minister said, adding that "we have no luxury to keep them closed".

Experts are calling on the government to speed up the pace of the vaccination and thus reduce the spread of the coronavirus amid a vaccine hesitancy that officials are trying to address with more information on their efficiency.

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