Turkey next week will roll out a much-anticipated normalization process, by lifting restrictions in places with a low number of COVID-19 cases. The Black Sea region in the north, however, seems to be dragging its feet in meeting the numbers required to put an end to curfews and reopen businesses.
Five neighboring provinces in the region had the highest weekly average cases, according to Health Ministry data released late Tuesday. Ordu dethroned Trabzon, last week’s hot spot, as the province with the highest number of people infected with coronavirus, an average of 228.4, per 100,000 people. On a regional basis, the numbers did not change much as Şırnak and Hakkari, two neighboring provinces in southeastern Turkey again had the lowest number of cases per 100,000 people.
The numbers were announced on the day when daily cases surpassed 8,000 for the first time in weeks, after fluctuating to around 7,000. This paints a gloomy picture for the country which clings to strict measures and relies on ongoing mass vaccinations to curb the pandemic. Weekly cases were first released on Feb. 8. The following week’s data showed that there were only two provinces with more than 200 cases per 100,000 people. The latest figures show that the number of those provinces now stands at five.
The factors that aggravated the number of cases vary for the Black Sea but experts link them mostly to people flouting the rules against the outbreak. In Ordu, 78 people were fined between Feb. 15-21 for violating rules like mandatory masks and social distancing.