Top Turkish medical association urges class downsizing, vaccinations for schools

Turkey's top medical association on Sunday called on the Education Ministry to reduce classes to 30 percent  of their current capacity and expedite the vaccination of adults in bid to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) called for practices that decreased the risk posed by unvaccinated adults while urging the ministry to encourage the inoculation of those under the age of 12, Diken news site reported.

‘‘Classes should absolutely be reduced to under 30 percent (capacity),’’ the TTB said, ‘‘In order to decrease the number of bodies in class, it is important that students make concessions on the number of days the are in school.’’ 

The top medical association went on to say that the Health Ministry had made no preparations for the return to in-class schooling since the outbreak of the pandemic in Turkey in March 2020.

Schools in Turkey reopened on September 6 amid a surge in COVI-19 infections following a one-and-a-half-year year hiatus over the pandemic.

Meanwhile, vaccination rates in the country are below averages in Europe, compromising its battle against the virus. Some 64 percent of the population have received two vaccine shots under a national programme that has administered more than 100 million shots, according to Health Ministry data.

But the country’s top health official Fahrettin Koca earlier this month warned against "a pandemic of the unvaccinated" as the country registered over 23,000 new cases over the past 24 hours.

The TTB on Sunday said the mandate of two mandatory PCR tests each week for unvaccinated school employees was an insufficient practice.

‘‘The vaccination of all adults in schools is the real solution,’’ the TTB said. ‘‘Moreover, it has come to our attention that the Health Ministry has failed in its practice of the PCR testing.’’

The Health Ministry on Sunday dismissed the TTB’s call on schools, saying crowded classrooms in the country were an exception, Diken reported.

‘‘Schools are the most secure environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ the site cited Health Minister Mahmut Özer as saying.

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