ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey on Wednesday reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic as the rapidly-spreading omicron variant takes hold.
The Health Ministry recorded 66,467 new cases and 143 deaths in the past 24 hours. The previous peak, reached on April 16, was 63,082 infections.
Despite the surge, the country is not so far considering introducing new restrictions but is urging people to continue to wear masks and to practice social distancing. Turkey is determined to keep schools open, officials have repeatedly said.
“Despite the increase in the number of cases with the omicron variant, there is no alarming increase in hospitalizations,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter. Still, he asked people to exercise caution, especially during hospital visits.
Separately, in a statement released following a weekly meeting of the country’s coronavirus advisory council, Koca said Turkey was reducing the quarantine period for people who have tested positive to seven days. People who test negative on the fifth day of the quarantine will be allowed to end their isolation, he said.
People who have received booster shots or contracted the virus in the last three months would not be forced into quarantine if they have had contact with an infected person, Koca added.
On Wednesday, the Turkish Football Federation announced that fans would be asked to show proof that they had received their booster shots before being allowed to enter stadiums to watch games.
Turkey has administered more than 134 million doses of vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac and Pfizer-BioNTech. Last week, it also rolled out the country’s first domestic vaccine, called Turkovac.
Around 83% of the adult population have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 20 million people have received booster shots.
More than 82,000 people have died of the virus.
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