Turkey has posted record daily numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases for the past 10 days, including 55,941 new infections reported late Thursday.
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Keen to minimize the pandemic’s repercussions for Turkey’s ailing economy, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan eased infection-control measures in early March. The recent spike forced him to announce renewed restrictions, such as weekend lockdowns and the closure of cafes and restaurants during Ramadan, starting on April 13.
Turkish medical groups say the reopening in March was premature and that the new measures won’t go far enough to curb the surge. They have called for a full lockdown during the holy Muslim month.
“Every single day the number of cases is increasing. Every single day the number of death is increasing. The alarm bells are ringing for the intensive care units,” Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, said.
The Health Ministry has said that around 75 percent of the recent infections in Turkey involve the more contagious variant first identified in Britain.
“We have unfortunately loosened the measures and were not able to accelerate vaccinations,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was quoted as saying in an interview with Hurriyet newspaper published Friday.
Of the hospital situation, Koca said: “There is no problem for now. But if this continues for three or four weeks, it will be a problem.”
Turkish opposition parties are blaming the spike on a series of mass political rallies by Erdogan’s ruling party. The party rejects the accusations.