Turkey's daily COVID-19 deaths hit record 153 as people deal with new curbs

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Deserted street is seen at popular touristic neighbourhood of Beyoglu in Istanbul

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's daily coronavirus death toll reached a record 153 on Monday, according to the Health Ministry, as citizens adapted to new nationwide curbs and weekend curfews following a rise in infections in recent weeks.

Under the new measures announced by President Tayyip Erdogan last week, the curfews and restricted hours for restaurants, cafes and shopping malls were imposed on Friday.

"Until we can start administering a vaccine, support us so that we can keep the spread rate of the outbreak under control," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

The government - which since July has not reported confirmed asymptomatic COVID-19 cases - said on Monday there were 6,713 new symptomatic patients in Turkey, the highest new daily figure since the switch in the reporting format. It showed the overall death toll rose to 12,511.

Medics and opposition lawmakers have criticised the decision to only report symptomatic cases, saying it hides the true scale of the outbreak. Last week, the Turkish Medics Association said its own calculations showed cases had jumped 300% in November to more than 47,500 daily.

Monday's Health Ministry data showed 453,535 total COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier on Monday, Koca was quoted as saying that Ankara had changed its reporting format to match European countries that began to only test people applying to hospitals, but that it had been detrimental to his ministry's image.

"Such a report is actually to the detriment of my ministry too because the seriously ill and death rates look very high in relation to the patient numbers, and it creates a result as if we are unsuccessful in treatment," broadcaster Haberturk cited Koca as saying.

Koca said that he would have preferred stricter measures on weekends, but that the current steps were "a sufficient message." If the number of cases fell, measures would ease but "if not, they will tighten," Koca said.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Grant McCool)