Turkey confirmed 32,106 more COVID-19 infections, including 5,607 symptomatic patients, over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data released Friday.
The total number of cases reached over 1.78 million with the latest additions, the data showed.
At least 5,516 patients recuperated from the diseases over the past day, bringing the tally to 458,109, while total fatalities rose to 15,977 with 226 additions.
Across the country, more than 208,873 COVID-19 tests were conducted, pushing the total to more than 20.7 million.
The number of seriously ill people now stands at 5,952, though the rate of increase in severe cases is falling.
Urging the nation to follow safety measures, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter: "Let's insistently protect ourselves and our loved ones until the vaccine is administered and takes effect. This is our common responsibility."
Power of vaccines
Speaking via video link at the Joint Vaccine Symposium 2020 organized by Hacettepe University’s Vaccine Institute in the capital Ankara, Koca said: "We believe in the power of vaccines."
Saying that he relies on the results of scientific research, Koca adds that he believes we will beat back the virus through vaccines.
"The importance of our strong primary healthcare services in tracking patients and people contacted during the pandemic period has been better understood," he added.
Koca underlined the importance of wearing masks and keeping social distance and hygiene in the face of COVID-19, calling these measures the "most powerful weapons".
Touching on Turkey's priorities in purchasing COVID-19 vaccines, Koca said that the country focuses on the reliability and effectiveness of the vaccines being brought to the country, regardless of cost.
Vaccine work in Turkey
Koca said that there are 16 different vaccine research studies being carried out in Turkey.
"In the vaccine development studies carried out by our universities and authorized centers, three of our vaccines have reached the clinical stage, and the vaccine produced by the Kayseri Erciyes University team is about to complete Phase 1 studies," he said.
The country's first indigenous vaccine is expected to be in Phase 3 with widespread application hopefully by April, if tests continue well, Koca added.
Since it emerged last December, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed over 1.58 million lives in 191 countries and regions.
More than 69.8 million cases have been reported worldwide, with over 45 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.
While the US, India, and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of the number of cases, Europe is in the grip of a devastating second wave of infections.