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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sept. 18 that the government needed to ramp up measures to curb a rise in coronavirus cases, which have increased in recent weeks back to early-May levels.

“Our people have not complied with the rules. So we have to tighten the measures again. The [Coronavirus] Science Committee and Health Ministry need to increase the measures. We are doing this out of our sensitivity towards our people,” Erdoğan told reporters after the Friday prayers in Istanbul.

The virus infections and deaths began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. The “normalization” plan has been slammed by critics, who said that the government was offloading the blame on citizens and the burden on healthcare staff.

Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the COVID-19 measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.

For example, during a rally held by Erdoğan in the Black Sea province of Giresun on Aug. 31, social distancing measures were completely flouted, with people standing in close proximity to each other.

Recently, a wedding ceremony of an AKP lawmaker’s son also raised eyebrows as a number of officials were seen violating the precautions. Not only were food and beverages served to customers, but also guests were seen approaching the couple to pin their gifts on their outfits, both of which are against Interior Ministry decrees.

Turkey registers 1,771 new cases, 62 more fatalities from virus

Meanwhile, Turkey on Sept. 18 reported 1,771 more cases of the COVID-19 and 1,060 recoveries. The country’s overall infection count now stands at 299,810, including 264,805 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry’s data.

The death toll from pandemic in the country rose to 7,377, with 62 new fatalities. A total of 111,113 more coronavirus tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, raising the total to over 9 million.

The number of patients in critical condition now stands at 1,402, the data showed. Of those infected, 7.1 percent suffer from pneumonia, showed the ministry figures.

“Our adult bed occupancy rate is 48.5 percent, that is less than 50 percent,” Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said at a news conference on Sept. 18.

Koca said the rate of adult intensive care occupancy is 66 percent and the rate of occupancy of ventilators is 33 percent. In general there are no serious problems about the occupancy rate in hospitals across Turkey, he added.