Turkey will gradually start easing restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus as of March, the country’s president said on Wednesday.
"We are starting the gradual normalization process as of the beginning of March by dividing our provinces into four categories in line with criteria established by our health ministry,” said Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex.
“March will be a month when we will cover a lot of ground in terms of vaccination,” Erdogan added.
He said that provinces will be categorized as “low”, “medium”, “high” and “very high-risk” based on infection rates and the vaccination process.
The president said some 5.7 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered across the country, adding: “We have made the necessary contacts for [acquiring more] vaccines that we will need in the first place.”
Recalling that the government had announced gradual transition to face-to-face education in schools after the last week’s Cabinet meeting, he said the process was delayed in some provinces due to heavy snowfall.
The process will continue, he added.
Turkey on Wednesday reported 7,325 new coronavirus cases, including 649 symptomatic patients, according to the Health Ministry.
The country's case tally passed 2.6 million, while the nationwide death toll reached 27,738, with 86 fatalities over the past day.
On Jan. 14, Turkey began a mass COVID-vaccination campaign, starting with healthcare workers along with top officials to encourage public confidence in the vaccines.
Since last December, Turkey has been implementing curfew on weeknights and a full weekend curfew to curb the spread of the virus.
The pandemic has claimed more than 2.42 million lives in 192 countries and regions since December 2019.
Over 109.77 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now more than 61.73 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.
The US, India, and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.
*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin