Turkey logs highest new cases since beginning of pandemic
Turkey has recorded 37,303 new coronavirus cases in the space of just 24 hours, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic more than a year ago, health ministry data showed on March 30.
The government said on March 29 it would tighten restrictions on movement and gatherings because of rising infections, less than a month after easing them.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the tightening of coronavirus measures, including the return of full nationwide weekend lockdowns for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
The latest daily death toll recorded was 155, bringing the cumulative toll to 31,385, according to the data.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters at the parliament that new variants of the coronavirus, which officials have blamed for the spike in infections, had now been seen in every province.
“Currently, the rate of the mutations in Turkey has reached some 75 percent. In some provinces, it is at around 50-55 percent, but there are provinces where it is at 95 percent,” Koca said.
Most were of the variant first identified in Britain, with much smaller numbers of those first identified in South Africa and Brazil, Koca said, calling on people to become more vigilant.
“We must show a bit more effort in protecting those in risk groups and limiting close contact. Until when? At least until vaccination is completed,” he said.
The Health Ministry also announced the latest weekly infection rates of the coronavirus across Turkey’s 81 provinces on March 20-26.
The number of cases per 100,000 people was over 401 in the metropolis Istanbul, up from 251 in the previous week, 184 in the capital Ankara from 107, and 156 in the western province of Izmir from 111.
According to the data, Turkey’s Black Sea province of Samsun continued to have the highest weekly case total with 586 per 100,000 people.
The southeastern provinces of Şırnak, Siirt, Şanlıurfa and Mardin and the eastern province of Van had the lowest COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people between the given dates, with Şırnak having just 13.
Meanwhile, Turkey will start administering the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the next few days, according to the ministry.
“Some 2.8 million doses of BioNTech vaccine was brought to the country and placed in the warehouses of the ministry. The vaccine to be applied after the analysis studies will reach 4.5 million doses in April,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Turkey began a mass COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Jan. 14 and has administered some 16 million coronavirus vaccine jabs since then, according to official figures.
To date, over 9 million people have been administered the first dose of a vaccine against the coronavirus, with more than 6.9 million people who have received the second dose of the vaccine as well.