Turkey’s Covid cases surge amid calls for vigilance

The daily Covid-19 cases across Turkey have jumped to over 11,000 for the first time since mid-May, while authorities call for renewed vigilance as holidaymakers seem to have cast aside hygiene and social distancing rules.

Turkey recorded 11,094 cases and 60 deaths on Friday, according to the health ministry. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, who frequently uses Twitter to warn citizens, said “if you want tomorrow to be better than today, comply with the measures. Get vaccinated.”

“We have to return to strict compliance with hygiene rules and drop our relaxed attitude towards the virus,” Koca also warned, Xinhua news agency reported.

He was referring to hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers who have flocked to crowded coastal towns and resorts in western and southern Turkey this week to spend the holiday of Eid al-Adha, or feast of sacrifice.

TV channels have shown the images of mass gatherings for the holiday in many towns and lots of people on the beaches, most of them without masks and without complying with social distancing.

Turkey started a mass vaccination campaign in January, with the Chinese Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The country has administered over 65 million doses, including third booster shots for people over 50 years old.

But health experts fear that the Delta variant, spreading in Turkey, could cause a new wave of infections in August.

“There has been a massive tourist movement in coastal regions, and people didn’t respect sanitary rules as they did in their hometowns,” Gule Cinar, a virologist from capital Ankara, told Xinhua.