The number of new coronavirus cases in Turkey’s largest provinces, Istanbul and Ankara, were reported to be the lowest this week, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday.
Turkey reported 1,214 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total caseload to 185,245.
In the meantime, 23 people died, and 1,494 more patients recovered, Koca added. With this latest update, more than 157,516 people have recovered from the disease in Turkey so far, while 769 patients remain in intensive care.
The minister said that the number of new cases continues to decrease across the country. Health care professionals conducted 41,316 tests to detect the disease in the past day, raising the total count of tests to over 2.86 million.
Earlier on Wednesday, Istanbul, the capital Ankara and the northwestern city of Bursa joined 45 provinces in Turkey that have made wearing face masks in public mandatory after the Health Ministry warned of a steady rise in COVID-19 cases in those cities.
Wearing masks is already obligatory in a large number of enclosed spaces, from supermarkets to restaurants, but authorities have been laxer in enforcing masks outdoors. Police often stop and warn people without masks.
Minister Koca and other government officials have repeatedly called on the public to wear masks, avoid getting too close to each other and be careful about personal hygiene in a bid to curb the pandemic.
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