ADDS MORE REMARKS OF TURKISH HEALTH MINISTER
By Jeyhun Aliyev and Seda Sevencan
ANKARA (AA) - As many as 63 more people died of coronavirus in Turkey in the past 24 hours, the Turkish health minister said on Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 277.
The tally of confirmed coronavirus cases climbed to 15,679, as 2,148 more people tested positive for the virus in the past 24 hours, Fahrettin Koca announced on the public broadcaster.
He noted that the fatality rate from the virus stands at 1.58% in Turkey, lower than many other countries.
A total of 333 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals since the beginning of the outbreak, according to the latest figures.
He added that hospitals have not over stressed their resources, with a 63% occupancy rate in intensive care units and a bed occupancy rate of 40% in the Anatolian region of Turkey.
Some 979 patients are being treated at intensive care units.
Also, 14,396 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours and the number of overall tests carried out so far stood at 106,799.
- Cases reported nationwide
Koca said that all 81 provinces of Turkey have registered coronavirus cases, adding that fatalities were only recorded in 39 provinces.
Most coronavirus cases were registered in country's largest metropolis Istanbul -- 8,852 cases, which make around 60% of all cases -- followed by 853 cases in the Aegean Izmir province, 712 cases in the capital Ankara, 584 cases in the central province of Konya, and 410 cases in the northwestern province of Kocaeli, he said.
Some 68.8% of citizens who lost their lives along with 63.3% of those currently in intensive care were suffering from high blood pressure, Koca added.
He went on to say that nearly 80% of fatalities from coronavirus in Turkey occurred among people aged over 60.
Koca underlined they are making arrangements to waive off consulting fee at hospitals.
"This is a public health battle. Our goal is to get out of this battle with the least loss of life, and to control the virus as early as possible."
He added that a total of 601 healthcare personnel contracted coronavirus in the country.
- Preventive measures
Noting that nearly 4 million N95 protective masks have been distributed to state institutions as part of coronavirus measures over the past week, Koca said that Turkey had cut the exports of masks.
The minister said that the number of test centers for coronavirus will be increased to 89.
Koca reiterated the importance of staying at home to combat the pandemic, adding that: "The more the mobility drops in the cities, the faster we will win."
He also said that the travel restriction will be further intensified.
After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 180 countries and regions across the world, with its epicenter shifting to Europe.
The virus has killed more than 45,400 people and infected over 911,300 globally, while above 192,900 people recovered from the disease, according to figures collated by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.