Turkey COVID-19 cases reach a record high

A medical worker of the Bakirkoy District Health Directorate wearing a protective suit takes a swab sample from Mustafa Unlu during an antibody testing program following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey’s weekly regional COVID-19 figures keep increasing as the country keeps relaxed restrictions in place for now.

Health ministry statistics released late Saturday showed the rate of infection as more than 251 cases per 100,000 in Istanbul, the country’s largest city — up 41% since last week. That means about 40,000 new infections in Istanbul alone, which has quadrupled from numbers first released six weeks ago.

The government has divided its provinces into four risk categories and said it would evaluate restrictions at a local level every two weeks. The latest figures show many provinces turning “very high-risk” or “high risk.” Turkey’s president announced this week that relaxed restrictions, like in-restaurant dining and reduced curfews, would continue “for some more time,” but said tougher measures could be brought back.

The seven-day average of infections across the country has climbed over 18,000, hitting daily rates last seen in December. Patients in critical care and deaths are also rising. The total reported death toll in Turkey is 29,959.

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