Türkiye rules out new curbs despite COVID-19 surge

A man wearing a mask to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 walks along an alley in a commercial area in Istanbul on Jan 18, 2022. (FRANCISCO SECO / AP)

ANKARA / MANILA / SINGAPORE / ISLAMABAD / HANOI / TOKYO – Türkiye has witnessed a new surge in daily COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, but the government has so far ruled out reimposing lockdowns or new restrictions.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced last week that the weekly reported cases in the country increased by 40 times and the weekly hospitalized cases increased three folds compared to those at the end of April, which was the lowest point for the country's COVID-19 infections.

However, he ruled out new lockdowns or similar restrictions, though calling on the residents to get vaccinated.

The latest statistics from the Turkish Health Ministry showed 226,532 people tested positive for the coronavirus in the week between July 11 and July 17, and 96 COVID-related deaths.

At the beginning of summer when daily infections dropped under 1,000, the Turkish government lifted all the restrictions previously put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Currently, mask-wearing is mandatory only at hospitals.

But there are more and more people seen wearing masks in the streets of the capital of Ankara, and the local press is also reporting a considerable increase of cases in big cities such as Istanbul.

"There is a rise in cases and in people coming to hospitals for various syndromes linked to new variants of the virus. Everyone should take precautions," Can Barbaros, a family doctor from Ankara, told Xinhua.

He stressed that elderly people and those with chronic diseases should, in any case, respect social distancing and wear face masks.

Türkiye has administered more than 150 million doses of vaccines against the COVID-19. Over 53 million people, or about 63 percent of the population, have received two doses.

Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Türkiye on March 11, 2020, more than 15.5 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus. Nearly 100,000 people have died from the virus infection.

A woman wearing a face mask checks out her mobile phone as she walks across an intersection of the famed Ginza shopping district in Tokyo on June 3, 2022. (HIRO KOMAE / AP)


Japan could announce as early as Friday plans for a new system to allow regional authorities to take counter-measures against the spread of a new coronavirus variant, Kyodo News said, citing government sources.

Japan on Thursday reported 233,100 new daily COVID-19 cases, marking a new record for a second straight day, as the highly transmissible BA.5 Omicron subvariant continues to run rampant.

Tokyo alone confirmed a record 40,406 new infections, topping the 40,000-mark for the first time, with the number of cases jumping 8,500 from a week earlier. Officials said the health system was becoming overstretched.

The case count has topped the number of the previous week for nine consecutive days, the official figure showed.

While the government said there had been fewer deaths than in previous waves, the number of those critically ill has been increasing in some parts of the country, putting medical systems under pressure.

Japan has never ordered national lockdowns on the scale of some other nations, instead periodically calling on people to stay home as much as possible and limiting the opening hours of restaurants and bars.

Pakistan's former president Asif Ali Zardari, center, arrives at a court in Karachi, Pakistan, Dec 21, 2018. (FAREED KHAN / AP)


Former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has tested positive for COVID-19, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on social media Thursday.

The former president, who is a member of the country's national assembly and the father of Foreign Minister Zardari, was fully vaccinated and had taken a booster dose, said Zardari the junior.

The former president is having mild symptoms and has isolated himself, the foreign minister said, adding that his father is undergoing treatment.


The Philippines reported 3,858 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest daily tally since Feb. 10 this year, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,764,346.

The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases rose to 29,897, and 10 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country's death toll to 60,704.

The DOH's officer-in-charge Undersecretary Beverly Lorraine Ho said the country tallies an average of over 3,000 new cases daily.

"All areas show an increase in cases, with Metro Manila, almost 1,110 cases per day," the alternate spokesperson told an online briefing.

Ho said the Philippines remains at low risk, while Metro Manila, home to over 13 million people, is "currently at moderate risk".

A notice warning people not to gather in groups larger than five persons as part of restrictions to hald the spread of the coronavirus is displayed at Raffles Place financial business district in Singapore on Jan 4, 2022. (ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP)


Singapore reported 8,565 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total tally to 1,694,454.

Of the new cases, 841 cases were detected through PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 7,724 through ART (antigen rapid test) tests, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Health.

Among the PCR cases, 795 were local transmissions and 46 were imported cases. Among the ART cases with mild symptoms and assessed to be of low risk, there were 7,411 local transmissions and 313 imported cases, respectively.

Two deaths were reported from COVID-19 on Thursday, lifting the total death toll to 1,492, the ministry said. 

Passengers wait for transportation outside the arrival hall of Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on March 15, 2022, as Vietnam announced the return of a visa exemption policy for 13 countries in an effort to kickstart its tourism sector. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)


Vietnam recorded 1,697 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, down by 64 from Wednesday, according to its Ministry of Health.

The newly reported infections brought the total tally to 10,774,679. The country reported no new deaths from the pandemic on Thursday, with the total fatalities staying at 43,092.

As of Thursday, there were 31 severe cases in need of assisted breathing in the Southeast Asian country, according to the ministry.