ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkey’s daily coronavirus deaths rose to a record 203 in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed on Monday, bringing the country’s total death toll to 15,103 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Turkey also recorded 32,137 new coronavirus cases, including asymptomatic ones, in the last 24 hours. For four months, Ankara only reported daily symptomatic cases but has reported all cases since Nov. 25. Historical data for all cases and the cumulative case total are still not available. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)
Turkey was on lockdown over the weekend to combat the recent surge in daily deaths and new infections. On Friday, Turkey had 32,736 new cases, the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic in March.
Despite the record daily death toll and high rate of new infections, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the measures were working but urged citizens to implement their own restrictions and avoid crowds.
“The rate of increase for seriously ill patients is falling. The effect of the restrictions has started showing. We hope we will feel them more soon,” Koca said on Twitter.
Earlier on Monday, the Health Ministry said it was reducing the quarantine period for people in close contact with COVID-19 cases to 10 days from 14. It added that quarantine can end after seven days if the person has shown no symptoms in that time and if they test negative.
Opposition lawmakers have expressed scepticism about whether the official death toll reflects the true picture in the country of 83 million people, questioning how numbers in Istanbul could be almost as high as those reported for the whole nation.
Turkey has signed a contract to buy 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. It is expected to begin vaccinations this month, prioritising health workers.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Lisa Shumaker)