Turkey Sounds Alarm on Jump in Coronavirus Cases Nationwide

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Turkey’s health minister acknowledged a nationwide increase in coronavirus cases and said he’d spend five days investigating the surge in Istanbul.

“The pandemic is on the rise again across the country,” Fahrettin Koca said on Friday in the northwestern city of Bursa before heading to the country’s largest city at the weekend, where the government-led coronavirus science board will also meet. Istanbul has “40% of nationwide cases,” the minister said, without elaborating.

“I invite Istanbulites to observe measures, by making sacrifices if necessary,” Koca said.

Turkey has reported more than 2,000 new patients for the past two days, near levels last seen in early May. The number of severely ill people rose to 1,599 on Thursday, the highest since the government started providing the figure in July.

Turkey stopped announcing all cases of the virus at the end of July and has since only disclosed the number of patients who test positive and show symptoms.

Koca acknowledged that shift in policy last month, triggering widespread criticism. The total number of cases would be shared with the World Health Organization, Hurriyet newspaper cited him as saying on Oct. 11.

Turkey’s economy shrank 9.9% from a year earlier in the second quarter, the most in over a decade, as lockdowns took their toll on the economy. The government predicts a 0.3% expansion this year, followed by 5.8% growth in 2021.

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