New coronavirus cases in Turkey hit record high after measures ease

Health ministry reports 14,556 infections in one day

People wearing mask to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus walk in Istanbul, Friday, March 5, 2021. Turkey had eased some coronavirus restrictions in dozens of provinces categorized as having low or medium infection risks. Cafes and restaurants are allowed to reopen at half-capacity and schools reopened for face-to-face education in the low- and medium-risk regions. The country has seen more than 2.7 million cases since March last year and around 28,500 COVID-19-related deaths.(AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
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The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey rose on Wednesday to the highest level this year, 10 days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced an easing of restrictions.

The health ministry said the number of new cases stood at 14,556, the highest since the end of last year and nearly double that of a month ago.

Mr Erdogan last week announced a partial reopening of schools, cafes and restaurants.

Ankara also eased weekend lockdowns, after the number of new cases fell below 10,000 a day.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca blamed the rise in cases on the faster spread of Covid-19 variations.

Mr Koca said more than 40,000 people were infected by the variant first identified in Britain, as well as those discovered in South Africa and Brazil, although in much smaller numbers.

Wednesday's data showed 67 people died with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 29,227.

Turkey, with a population of 83 million, has administered 10.41 million vaccine doses in a campaign that began in mid-January.

More than 7.7 million people have received a first shot and nearly 2.6 million have received a second dose of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac.