Turkey’s government is seeking to stress its success in testing for COVID-19 as it works to reverse a spike in infections while keeping the economy fully open.
Turkey has tested more than 8 million people for the virus since it erupted in March, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday. Daily tests stood at over 110,000, he said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered citizens to wear protective masks in all public spaces earlier this week after the country saw a spike in infections. Koca says the responsibility lies with citizens to obey the measures put in place.
“If we all strictly follow the [protective] measures, we will be stronger against the virus. Let’s support this strength and protect our loved ones,” he said.
Turkey reported 1,673 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest number in four months, bringing the nationwide tally to 284,943 since the first case emerged on March 11.
The country’s leading medical groups and the mayors of Ankara and Istanbul, who belong to the main opposition party, have criticised the government for failing to take sufficient measures to stem the spread of the virus. They also say that official data does not reflect the number of infections.
Up to this week, the government had taken limited, ad-hoc measures to battle COVID-19, including restricting celebrations for weddings and circumcisions, since easing a nationwide lockdown at the start of June.
Turkey has sought to battle the virus while keeping the economy running and leaving the country open to tourism, which provides vital hard currency revenues. The lira has slumped to record lows against the dollar in recent weeks, partly on concern that Turkey has insufficient foreign currency revenues to finance the shortfall.