Leading medical association head warns against COVID-19 spread as restrictions ease

The head of Turkey’s leading medical association has warned against the spread of COVID-19 from the country’s epicentre of Istanbul as the government prepares to ease travel restrictions aimed at containing the spread of the novel virus.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chairman Sinan Adıyaman said opening travel from Istanbul, which contains roughly 60 percent of Turkey’s cases, to other provinces could spike the contagion, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

“Are there no [COVID-19] patients left in Istanbul? We know that 80 percent of the infected are asymptomatic. Let’s say you open travel from Istanbul to all provinces. You are, in a sense, sending [off] the virus,’’ Adıyaman said. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Thursday that Turkey would lift restrictions on intercity travel and allow restaurants, cafes, parks and sports facilities to reopen as of June 1.

The announcement arrives as the country registered a drop in the number of reported daily coronavirus deaths and infections in the past week.

Turkey halted travel between 31 cities, including Istanbul, with few exceptions in early April.

Fifteen cities remain under restrictions, which are also set to be lifted on June 1.