Turkey suspends Antalya health workers’ leave ‘as Russian tourist influx drives up Covid infections’

Turkey suspends Antalya health workers’ leave ‘as Russian tourist influx drives up Covid infections’
Russia says yes, the UK says no, to international tourism in Antalya, where the coronavirus rate is said to be soaring.
By bne IntelIiNews August 10, 2021

Turkey has suspended annual leave for all health workers in the Mediterranean region of Antalya—the country’s most visited tourist area—until further notice as part of latest efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The number of coronavirus cases in Antalya is at least three or four times greater than the official data shows, Nursel Sahin, head of a top medical association for the region, claimed last week. An influx of Russian tourists, who have low vaccination rates against coronavirus, means the delta variant of the virus has become dominant, Sahin said.

All state employees involved in combatting the coronavirus outbreak in Antalya will have the option to work 24 hours a day, the Antalya governor’s office said on Monday.

Russia allowed its citizens to resume tourist visits to Turkey on June 22. It banned them from travelling to Turkey in mid-April, pointing to soaring cases of the virus in the country. Airlines are flying to Turkey from 45 airports in Russia. The country provided the most tourists to Turkey in 2019. 

The UK is among countries that still have Turkey on its “red” travel list, given Ankara’s failure to bring down coronavirus infection rates to levels considered acceptable for tourist visits.

Tourism is vital to Turkey’s economy, thus officials are loathe to forbid tourism any longer than they can reasonably represent as necessary.

Turkey has fully vaccinated 29.83mn people, or 35.7% of its 83.6mn citizens, against coronavirus, according to its health ministry. The rates stand at 51.5% in the European Union and 58.1% in the UK.

Hurriyet Daily News reported on August 10 that the government is discussing tightening coronavirus restrictions in September.