Turkey's Erdogan says new pandemic measures not being considered as cases rise


FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks on as he addresses the media after the Friday prayers in Istanbul, Turkey March 12, 2021. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey recorded 15,503 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the highest daily rise this year, official data showed, as President Tayyip Erdogan said no new restrictions against the pandemic would be imposed for now.

Erdogan acknowledged the recent rise in cases over the past two weeks since restrictions were eased in many provinces on March 1, when daily cases were just below 10,000 across Turkey. He said despite a rise in cases in some provinces, hospitalisations, and intensive care unit and intubation levels had not increased.

"We decided to continue the current practice in our cities in today's meeting and to closely follow the developments," Erdogan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.

Turkey eased pandemic measures two weeks ago on a province-by-province basis, and said the measures would be evaluated every two weeks.

Provinces are ranked on a scale of low to very high risk based on average daily cases per 100,000 people. Although average daily cases in some provinces have risen above the cut-off for their current risk group, no changes to the provinces' status were announced.

"I think that our people were not able to show the necessary attention to abiding by the rules with the first excitement of normalisation," Erdogan said.

"God willing, by acting much more consciously and carefully from now on, we will overcome this issue all together," he added.

Turkey, with a population of 83 million, has administered about 11.5 million vaccine doses in a campaign that began in mid-January. More than 7.93 million people have received a first shot and nearly 3.57 million a second dose of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech.

A total of 2,894,893 COVID-19 cases have been recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, the data from the Health Ministry showed on Monday. In the space of 24 hours, 63 people died due to COVID-19, bringing the cumulative death toll to 29,552.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Leslie Adler)

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