Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on April 19 announced that intensive care units (ICU) across Istanbul -- a hot spot for the COVID-19 virus -- currently have a 71.4 percent bed occupancy rate.
Following a virtual meeting with local authorities in Istanbul, as well as other northwestern provinces grappling with the highest case rises in the country, Koca said on Twitter that the occupancy of intensive care units in Tekirdağ is at 73.5 percent, 67.1 percent in Çanakkale, 69 percent in Kırklaerli, and 55.4 percent in Yalova.
"We evaluated the course of the outbreak and the measures taken in these provinces," Koca said, after meeting with these provinces' governors and health directors.
İstanbul’da yoğun bakım yataklarımızda doluluk %71,4. Çanakkale’de %67,1. Tekirdağ’da %73,5. Kırklareli’nde %69. Yalova’da %55,4. Vaka sayılarının artışı, sağlık çalışanlarımızın yükünü de oransal olarak artırıyor.— Dr. Fahrettin Koca (@drfahrettinkoca) April 19, 2021
Earlier on April 19, Koca announced that citizens in the 55-60 age group will now be able to get their COVID-19 vaccinations.
"As of today, we are entering a new phase in the vaccination program. It is now the turn of those older than 55 years of age to get vaccinated. I invite our citizens whose turn has come to get vaccinated. Our vaccination program will continue with determination depending on procurement conditions," he wrote on Twitter.
Bugün itibariyle aşılama programında yeni bir safhaya geçiyoruz. Aşılamada sıra 55 yaşından büyüklere geldi. Sırası gelen vatandaşlarımızı aşı olmaya davet ediyorum. Aşı programımız tedarik koşullarına bağlı olarak kararlılıkla sürecek.— Dr. Fahrettin Koca (@drfahrettinkoca) April 19, 2021
Meanwhile, Turkey on April 19 recorded 55,149 new COVID-19 cases, down from a record of more than 63,000 cases reported on April 16.
The data also showed 341 people died due to COVID-19 in the same period, bringing the total number of deaths since the beginning of the pandemic to 36,267.
Turkey currently ranks fourth globally in the number of daily cases based on a seven-day average, according to a Reuters tally.
Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced several new restrictions and a "partial closure" for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to curb the surge in cases.