ANKARA (Middle East Eye) – Last month’s decision by the UK to keep Turkey on its Covid-19 travel red list has angered Turkish officials, who point to lower infection and death rates in the country compared with others on the less-restrictive amber list.
The UK Department of Transport’s traffic-light system regulates entry into the country via ports and airports, with countries on the red list subject to the tightest restrictions and quarantine requirements.
In the past 90 days, Turkey has submitted genome data for over 50,000 Covid cases - as required by London - making it the third most proficient data-sharing country worldwide during this period, according to an open-source database.
Following the upload of data on the Gisaid (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) system, where countries transparently share their knowledge on the variants of the Covid cases and their specifics, Turkish officials expected that London would remove Turkey from the red list in August. However, for reasons that are as yet unclear, this did not happen, and Turkish officials now fear that the country’s tourism sector - which is heavily reliant on tourists - could end up being severely damaged as a result.
A UK Department of Transport spokesperson said in a written response to Middle East Eye that the UK recognized Turkey’s recent efforts to upload sequences to Gisaid.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier this week told BBC Turkish that Ankara’s datasets were up to date.
“We have entered 50,000 data to the system and continued to submit more cases every day,” Koca said. “The UK opened its doors to the countries that cannot even analyze the [Covid] data, but not to Turkey.”
Turkish citizens have complained that the UK does not recognize the Turkish vaccination data on the Pfizer jabs, which are given in the country.
Muge told MEE that she had received her first Pfizer shot in Turkey, and yet the NHS decided not to recognize her vaccination record.