Istanbul leads slowdown in Turkish COVID-19 infection rate

Turkey’s daily COVID-19 case numbers are falling, and 60 percent of that decline is attributed to a slowdown in infections in Istanbul, Hürriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday citing government sources.

The decline in the rest of the country was not as significant, with the overall rate there standing at 15 percent, according to Hürriyet.

The drop in new diagnoses will reflect on lower fatalities, which have remained above 240 for the last 10 days, after the first week of January, officials said in an intragovernmental meeting, the newspaper said. The government expects curbs on population movements to prevent a spike in infections during New Year’s Eve celebrations, it said.

Turkey is planning a nationwide curfew from 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 to 5 a.m. on Jan. 4. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that law enforcement units would be inspecting “hotels and villas and such” to prevent and break up any New Year’s Eve parties, Hürriyet reported.

With the first batch of a delayed shipment of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine set to arrive before New Year’s Day, a fall in case numbers is expected throughout January, officials said.

The new strain of the coronavirus that has emerged in Britain may have already entered Turkey before tighter measures to restrict the spread of the virus were implemented in the last two weeks, experts told the government, according to Hürriyet.

Turkey’s daily cases of COVID-19 have dropped from 20,316 on Dec. 20 to 15,118 on Dec. 26, before rising slightly to 15,197 on Dec. 28. There are still at least 105,207 active cases in the country. On Monday, 257 people were recorded as having died of COVID-19.