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Covid-19: Turkey reports highest daily case rate since pandemic began

Turkey recorded nearly 55,000 new coronavirus cases and reported 276 deaths in a 24-hour period
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions in late March.
Schools and restaurants reopened in early March after a drop in infection rates, but new lockdown measures have been announced (AFP)

Turkey recorded 54,740 new coronavirus cases in the 24 hours to Wednesday evening, the highest daily number of cases since the start of the pandemic, health ministry data showed.

The latest daily death toll reached 276, also the highest since the start of the outbreak, bringing the cumulative total to 32,943.

The ministry also reported on Wednesday that 35,503 people had recovered from the virus.

Turkey, home to 83 million people, has carried out nearly 18 million vaccine inoculations, with some 10.55 million people having received a first dose, since it began the nationwide rollout of Covid-19 shots on 14 January, health ministry data showed.

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Weeks after reopening schools and restaurants in early March due to a drop in infection rates, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a fresh tightening of coronavirus restrictions, including the return of full nationwide weekend lockdowns during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on 13 April.

Out of the country's 81 provinces, 58 are designated as "red" or "very high-risk" zones, including the largest city, Istanbul, and the national capital, Ankara.

Communal meals during the holy month of Ramadan observed by Muslims have been prohibited, as was the case last year.

Mass gatherings in tents and other places for the pre-dawn and after-dusk meals will also not be allowed.

Furthermore, restaurants and cafes across the country will be closed during Ramadan.

Daily overnight curfews remain in place from 9pm (1800 GMT) to 5am (0200 GMT).