Surge in COVID-19 cases pushes Istanbul to high-risk category
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Istanbul, the Black Sea province of Samsun, the southeastern province of Kilis and the northwestern provinces of Balıkesir and Yalova provinces over the last week experienced the highest rises in the number of cases for a population of 100,000 each.
Those with more than 100 infections per 100,000 people are categorized as red provinces and are at very high risk, prompting authorities to impose more restrictive measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, according to Turkey’s normalization scheme.
Koca also added that the provinces of Sakarya, Ordu, Amasya, Rize, and Burdur recorded the highest drops in infections per 100,000 people.
Earlier on March 16, Koca shared the map for March 6-12 on his social media accounts and warned that a “normalization” could only be possible if measures are followed.
The map, which assesses the risk with the average number of cases per 100,000 people, shows a rise in cases with provinces already branded risky.
In Istanbul, weekly cases increased 60 percent compared to the previous week, while the rise was 25 percent for Ankara and 18 percent in İzmir, the nation’s third-largest province, according to the figures.
As of March 17, only nine provinces had the “blue” status, which means low risk, while 25 provinces are “red,” or meaning at very high risk.
The majority of very high-risk provinces are in the Black Sea and Marmara regions, while 21 among 30 big cities were in either the high or very high-risk groups.
Meanwhile, Turkey will obtain 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by the end of March, according to Milliyet daily.
If both parties agree on more acquisition for the future, up to 30 million doses of the vaccine will be available under the same conditions, it reported.
Turkey launched a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign in January, followed by a gradual normalization from coronavirus restrictions as of March 1.
The country currently uses CoronaVac, an inactive vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac, for vaccination and so far, over 12.2 million vaccine doses have been administered across Turkey, according to official figures.
These include 8 million first doses and 4.2 million second doses, including mostly the elderly and those on the frontline against COVID-19.