Two key steps against the coronavirus – getting fully vaccinated and complying with the individual safety measures – will prevent new the variants from emerging, according to a Turkish infectious diseases physician.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr. Ismail Balik, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Ankara University, said that the Mu variant of coronavirus – recently reported in Turkey – as well other variants that may emerge are important regarding the pandemic, but there is no need be concerned as they are closely monitored across the world.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Monday announced that two cases of Mu variant were found in Turkey, adding that the ministry does not intend to take any additional measures at the moment.
The Mu variant, which was first seen in Colombia in January 2021, continues to spread in the country, where it accounts for 39% of infections, and in Ecuador, where it accounts for 13% of cases.
Although its global prevalence is less than 0.1%, the variant has been detected in 39 countries to date.
The Mu variant is the World Health Organization's fifth "variant to watch closely," Balik underscored, adding that that the virus mutates as it finds a medium of transmission.
The transmission rate of the Mu variant is currently thought to be at least as much as the Delta variant, he said.
- Protective measures
He stressed that in order to prevent new variants and COVID-19 waves from emerging, people need to get fully vaccinated and wear mask, observe social distance and follow hygiene measures.
"The increase in the number of cases triggers the emergence of new variants. Vaccination is the most powerful weapon in preventing this," he said.
Recalling that the number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey has been around 20,000 "for a long time", Balik said the number of active cases is over 500,000 across the country.
He underlined that with the start of in-class learning in Turkey and the increased mobility, such as the return from holiday to the metropolitan cities, there will be a risk of rise in new infection unless measures are taken.
"We have two weapons at our disposal to prevent further increase in the number of cases; vaccines and precautions," he said.
"If 80-85% of all citizens over the age of 12 are fully receive the full dose of vaccines, the emergence of new variants and the growth of the pandemic will be prevented," the physician emphasized.
*Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev