Turkey has recorded the most single-day deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in what public health officials said was the country’s third wave of the epidemic.
The Department of Health on Wednesday reported 362 deaths and nearly 62,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. Turkey has the second highest number of new cases in the world after India.
Officials blamed the new variants of the virus for the high infection rate. The health minister said this week that intensive care units at hospitals in Istanbul, the country’s largest city which accounts for around 40% of cases, are almost two-thirds of their capacity.
The surge comes as Turkey expanded its vaccination schedule this week to include people aged 55 and over. But the Turkish Medical Association, the largest professional group of doctors, said appointments were hard to come by “because obviously there aren’t enough vaccines on hand.”
Some 20.6 million doses of the vaccine have been administered since mid-January, but just under 10% of the population has received both doses, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to avoid full lockdowns to protect the $ 717 billion economy, but last week he closed restaurants, ended most in-person classes and extended nighttime curfews. and the weekend.
In an attempt to keep its tourism industry afloat, foreign visitors are exempt from the curfew. The US State Department has raised its travel advisory for Turkey and about 100 other countries to “not travel” due to the severity of the outbreak.
The interior minister, who oversees the police force, said this week he would show “no compassion” and revoke the residence permits of foreign nationals living in Turkey who break the curfew by posing as some tourists. Turkish citizens caught breaking the curfew will be fined around $ 360.