Turkey reports highest total of confirmed coronavirus cases in Mideast as new cases fall
Turkey's confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to 82,329, the country’s health ministry said on Saturday, overtaking neighbouring Iran for the first time to register the highest official total in the Middle East.
Iran currently has reported 80,868 positive cases, according to government accounts. Many speculate the true number to be far higher, with a recent internal report written by nonpartisan experts suggesting the number as probably "eight to 10 times" that figure.
Turkey’s increase of 3,783 cases in the last 24 hours pushed the country’s confirmed cases within a few hundred of China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged, according to figures shared by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Twitter.
The latest number did however represent an overall fall in new cases, according to Koca, who urged continued "Precaution" and "treatment" for the country’s citizens as testing is ramped up.
The Health Minister said that 121 were recorded to have died as a result of coronavirus complications in the past 24 hours, raising the national death toll to 1,890.
He added that 1,822 patients had recovered from Covid-19 so far, bringing that number to 10,453.
Separately, the Interior Ministry said it would extend a ban on entering and leaving 31 provinces by land, air, or sea for 15 days. These provinces, including Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, are on a weekend lockdown to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
While people infected with the coronavirus often experience mild or moderate symptoms, possible complications like pneumonia can put their lives at risk.
On Friday, local authorities in Izmir – Turkey’s third largest city – began installing vending machines to dispense free face masks and sanitiser to commuters in its metro system as part of efforts to contain the spread of contagion.
While countries continue to suffer from a shortage of personal protective equipment, Ankara has provided emergency aid outside its borders, including a planeload of medical supplies to the UK last week.
Earlier this month, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said that the country was producing one million masks a week.
Agencies contributed to this report.
Read more: Turkish city installs vending machines offering metro commuters free masks, sanitisers
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