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Increasing Coronavirus Outbreaks Throughout Turkey: Health Minister


File Photo: Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca will speak at a press conference in Ankara, Turkey, on January 24, 2020. REUTERS / Cagla Durak

Ankara (Reuters)-Coronavirus outbreaks in Turkey are on the rise again nationwide, health minister Faretin Coca said Friday, following the recent surge in daily symptomatological cases.

Coca, who told reporters in the northwestern state of Bursa, said that 40% of all cases nationwide were reported in Istanbul, the country’s largest city, five times as many as in the capital Ankara.

Turkey reported an additional 2,102 COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday. This is the highest number since May when Ankara imposed a series of restrictions. According to data from the Ministry of Health, the number of deaths from the virus increased to 9,584 on Thursday.

Turkey’s top medical associations and major opposition criticized the government’s decision to publish only symptomatic COVID-19 patients, saying it hides the true magnitude of the outbreak.

Late Thursday, Coca said Istanbul residents should avoid crowded areas unless necessary. On Friday, he said he would hold discussions in Istanbul starting this weekend to assess the recent rise there.

Turkey imposed weekend closures, restrictions on intercity travel, and closure of restaurants and cafes earlier this year to slow the spread of the virus.

Almost all restrictions were lifted in June. The government has since implemented measures such as increasing social distance and wearing masks, and has fined those who violated the rules.

A senior official said Wednesday that Ankara was considering imposing some restrictions to stop the revival of the case, but would avoid restraining the economic recovery. Vice President Fuat Oktay later said there was no action on the government agenda at this stage.

Report by Tuvan Gumrukcu; edited by Ece Toksabay and Angus MacSwan


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