Turkey’s coronavirus count rose on Aug. 15 to its highest daily level since June, with total deaths nearing 6,000, according to the government, which rolled out new inspection and enforcement measures earlier this month.
Doctors have been warning the virus has hit health workers as it gained traction through the summer ahead of planned in-person school reopenings next month.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter there were 1,256 new cases and 21 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing total cases above 278,000, and he urged Turkish people to work together to turn things around.
For three weeks last month, new cases had hovered just under 1,000. They were last this high on June 30.
Turkey mostly lifted a partial lockdown on June 1 and recently imposed fines for those who do not wear masks and maintain social distancing in public.
The Turkish Medical Association said in a report on Aug. 14 that, based on its analysis of government antibody tests, there are likely some 10 times more active coronavirus patients than suggested by the official tally based on virus tests.
It added that 27 doctors and 53 healthcare workers have died from the virus in the last five months. “The cautious approach expected of individuals was not demonstrated by the central authority,” it said.
Earlier this month, Koca dismissed as “unfounded” claims that some hospitals and cities were at capacity due to COVID-19.