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UPDATE 1-Turkey logs 28,118 new COVID-19 cases as infections climb

·2 min read

(Adds health minister comments, background)

ISTANBUL, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Turkey logged 28,118 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, health ministry data showed, declining slightly from a day earlier when the country registered its highest daily level since early May amid a rise in cases after schools reopened last week.

The number of cases on Wednesday was 28,224, the highest since May 4.

Infections have risen https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/turkey since Turkey reopened schools to in-person education last week and most COVID-19 measures were eased over the summer but officials have said there are currently no plans to impose new restrictions.

Earlier this month, Ankara began asking for a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination from teachers and also for certain public events.

In an attempt to curb the infection risk in schools, Ankara also said it would begin random testing at schools across the country to determine potential non-symptomatic students.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday that there were no major issues regarding infections since schools have reopened, adding that keeping schools open for in-person education was a priority for the government.

Turkey also recorded 262 deaths from the coronavirus on Thursday, down from 290 earlier this month.

The rise in Turkey's daily death toll since mid-July has been among the sharpest among countries in Europe and the Middle East, global data shows.

Koca said the ratio of unvaccinated individuals among the deaths was very high.

"This situation is an indication of what a disaster would have awaited us if it weren't for the vaccines," he said on Wednesday, reiterating a call for people to get their shots.

"Our current cases and losses could have been much higher without the vaccine," Koca said.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Catherine Evans and Jonathan Oatis)