ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The number of Delta-variant COVID-19 cases in Turkey has risen to some 750 from 284 seven days ago and the total number of cases is up 20% this weekend from a week ago earlier, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
Turkey eased most coronavirus restrictions on July 1 after daily cases rose from a peak of over 60,000 in April to around 5,000, but Koca said new figures indicated an increase.
“These increases have appeared more in places with low immunization levels,” Koca told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Monday, noting an increase in cases in Turkey’s southeastern provinces.
He called on people to get vaccinated and said about 61% of the adult population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. He has set a target of 70% by the Eid al-Adha holiday next week.
Turkey has reported 5.5 million cases of COVID-19 and 50,000 deaths in total. A vaccination schedule has grown to around one million vaccines per day in recent weeks, with 38 million receiving at least one dose out of a population of 84 million.
Turkey’s vaccination program began in January with vaccines developed by Sinovac and now also includes vaccines from Pfizer and Biontech, and Russia’s Sputnik V.
Delta variant cases have now been recorded in 36 provinces, up from 30 a week earlier, while a total of three Delta Plus cases have been recorded, Koca said.
The ministry was not proposing new restrictions and while there is currently no new wave of cases, this cannot be ruled out, the way to avoid this being an increase in vaccinations, he said.
He added that he did not want to make vaccinations mandatory and that the ministry was instead aiming to convince people to get vaccinated, with plans to increase mobile vaccination teams.
(Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; writing by Daren Butler; editing by Dominic Evans)