Daily cases top 30,000 in Turkey for first time since October

Daily cases top 30,000 in Turkey for first time since October

Daily cases top 30,000 in Turkey for first time since October

The number of daily COVID-19 cases in Turkey increased to above the 30,000 mark for the first time since mid-October as Health Minister Fahrettin Koca warned of an upward trend in infections due to the Omicron strain of the virus.

Turkey reported its first six cases of the Omicron variant on Dec. 11, and this week authorities said that more than 40 cases caused by the new variant had been detected in at least six provinces, including Istanbul.

“Bringing the number of cases down to the 20,000 level was a serious success. Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, it is observed that infections are in an upward trend,” Koca wrote on Twitter.

The country’s Health Ministry reported a total of 32,176 new cases on Dec. 28, which marked the highest number of daily infections since Oct. 12 when 33,860 infections were recorded.

The number of cases hit record levels in mid-April, climbing up to 60,000, forcing authorities to announce a series of strict measures to bring the spread of the virus under control. Daily infections dropped significantly in the following weeks declining to around 5,000 in late June and early July. However, daily cases started to increase again afterwards. They have been around 20,000 throughout most of December.

“We are going through a period when we need to be cautious and get our booster shots. Have no doubts! We will succeed again,” the minister said.

In a separate tweet, Koca stressed that because of the heightened risks from the Omicron, getting booster shots have become even more important and those who are eligible should have their shots immediately.

The country recently shortened the booster shot interval to three months from the previous six months.

To date, nearly 18 million people have been given a booster shot, with the number of total COVID-19 vaccines administered in Turkey exceeding 130 million doses, data from the Health Ministry show.

More than 51 million people, or some 93 percent of the population aged 18 and above, have been double jabbed, while around 57 million people, or 91 percent of the adults, have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The country’s domestically developed jab, Turkovac, last week received emergency use authorization and it is expected to start to be used in the vaccination program this week. Turkey has been using the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and the Chinese firm Sinovac.