ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey recorded 11,520 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, Health Ministry data showed, amid an easing of coronavirus restrictions across the country.
Sixty-five people also died because of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the overall death toll to 28,771, the data showed.
The total number of cases registered since the beginning of the outbreak has now risen to 2,734,835.
On Monday evening, President Tayyip Erdogan lifted weekend lockdowns in low- and medium-risk cities and limited lockdowns to Sundays in those deemed higher risk under what he called a “controlled normalisation”.
On Tuesday, Turkish restaurants reopened and many children returned to school as part of the easing, but infections edged higher, raising concerns among the top medics association. Later on Tuesday, Turkey reported its highest number of new cases since Jan. 7, with nearly 12,000.
In a statement after a meeting with his coronavirus science council, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the easing of the restrictions did not mean citizens should ease personal measures, and warned of the high infection rates.
“The virus has not left our lives. However, the days when it will are close,” Koca said. “Our high case numbers continue to pose a threat to regaining the regular flow of our lives. But we have control and we can normalise by adhering to the measures.”
Turkey, with a population of 83 million, has administered 9.43 million vaccines in a campaign that began in mid-January. More than 7.29 million people have received a first shot and 2.1 million have received a second dose of the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkish researchers said the Sinovac vaccine has an efficacy of 83.5% based on final results of Phase III trials, a downward revision from a preliminary finding of 91.25%.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Bernadette Baum)