Turkey has seen a five-fold increase in COVID-19 cases, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a press release late Wednesday.
Speaking after the meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board in the capital Ankara, Koca said: "There is over a five-fold rise in the daily number of COVID-19 cases and 55% increase in deaths compared to the previous peak in April."
"The total number of coronavirus tests reached 20 million and our positive case numbers exceeded 1.5 million. Of these, 550,000 went through a visible sickness," Koca said.
Turkey's daily coronavirus deaths rose to a record 217 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 15,531.
For four months, Ankara only reported daily symptomatic cases but is now reporting all cases since Nov. 25. Koca said the government would publish historical data for all cases starting Thursday.
Turkey reported 31,712 more coronavirus infections, including 6,213 symptomatic patients, over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data released Wednesday.
As many as 5,846 patients recovered in the past day, bringing the tally to 447,361, while the death toll rose to 15,531 with 217 additions.
Across the country, 204,411 more COVID-19 tests were administered, pushing the total to over 20.29 million.
The number of patients in critical condition now stands at 5,901, though the rate of increase in severe cases is declining.
Koca also touched upon vaccination efforts.
Turkey is going to receive 50 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in phases starting in the next few days, Koca said.
"Turkey expects to receive complete delivery of China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine within a few days," he said and added that the vaccination will be applied with 2 doses in 14 days and will be free.
"Turkey will have 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by February; we have chosen Sinovac because the company behind it is well-known for other successful vaccines and it is an inactivated vaccine, which is safer than mRNA vaccines," Koca explained.
The health minister also said that the first COVID-19 vaccination in Turkey will be given to health care personnel in late December and added that they are currently not planning to make the COVID-19 vaccination compulsory.