Turkey tightens curbs amid resurgence

Ankara, April 4 (IANS) Turkey has tightened its restrictive measures against the Covid-19 pandemic after witnessing a recent resurgence in the number of fresh cases.

According to a statement by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca issued on Saturday, the resurgence was mainly due to an increase in cases of the Covid-19 variants, reports Xinhua news agency.

On Friday, the country registered 42,308 new cases, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic in the country more than a year ago.

Turkey’s overall caseload has reached 3,445,052, while the death toll stood at 31,892.

The number of infected patients in critical condition currently stand at 2,182.

After the number of daily cases fell below 10,000 in March, Turkey started to ease restrictions which were adopted following a second wave of the contagion last November, reopening businesses such as restaurants, cafes and tea houses amid a gradual return to in-person education.

But that normalisation process is now on hold.

In the light of the rise in cases and fatalities, Turkey announced the return of weekend curfews in high-risk areas and other restrictions, in addition to special measures for the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which will start on April 13 in Turkey.

Communal meals during the Ramadan will be prohibited, as was the case last year.

“Unfortunately, Covid-19 rules have not been fully respected, and we have returned to restrictions. This situation is again a new burden for health professionals,” Gule Cinar, a virologist from a hospital in Ankara, told Xinhua.

She confirmed that a majority of coronavirus patients in hospitals were suffering from the variant, which also affects younger people.

The resurgence of infections is also a bad omen for Turkey’s vital tourism industry which is pinning high hopes for this year after a particularly difficult 2020.

“Currently, we have the highest daily (infection) numbers in Europe, so we have to give confidence to our future visitors by accelerating our vaccination program,” Esral Dongec, manager of an Ankara-based travel agency, told Xinhua.

Since Turkey began a mass Covid-19 inoculation campaign on January 14, it has administered over 16.1 million jabs, according to official figures.

In a country of 83 million people, more than 9.2 million to date have received their first doses, while the second doses have been given to over 6.9 million.

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