Infections continue to climb in Turkey amid relaxed measures

AP National - World

Women wearing masks to protect against the spread of coronavirus, walk in the rain during a women’s right protest, in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, March 20, 2021. Turkey’s weekly geographic COVID-19 figures keep increasing according to Health ministry statistics released late Saturday as the country continues its “controlled normalization.” (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey’s weekly regional COVID-19 figures keep increasing and deaths rising as the country maintains more relaxed restrictions for now.

The country’s official death toll in the pandemic climbed to 30,061 Sunday, when the government reported 102 new deaths. Daily deaths had dropped to an average of 65 the previous two weeks.

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 81 provinces into four risk categories and said it would evaluate “controlled normalization” efforts at a local level every two weeks. The latest figures show many cities 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” despite rising infections, but said tougher measures could be brought back.

According to measures announced in early March, weekend curfews remained in place in “very high-risk” cities and Sunday lockdowns continued in “high risk” cities. Restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor dining in all the categories other than “very high-risk,” and nighttime curfews are applied across the country.

The seven-day average of infections across the country has climbed to over 19,000, hitting daily rates last seen in December. The number of patients in critical care and deaths are also rising.

Facing an economic downturn, the government has been under pressure from business owners to resume operations during the pandemic.

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