Coronavirus outbreak on the rise again across Turkey - health minister

The coronavirus outbreak in Turkey has risen again nationwide, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday, following a recent surge in daily symptomatic patient numbers.

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ANKARA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - The coronavirus outbreak in Turkey has risen again nationwide, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Friday, following a recent surge in daily symptomatic patient numbers.

Speaking to reporters in the northwestern province of Bursa, Koca said 40% of total cases across the country were reported in the country's largest city Istanbul, where cases were five times more than those in the capital Ankara.

Turkey reported another 2,102 people with COVID-19 symptoms on Thursday, the highest figure since May when Ankara imposed a series of restrictive measures. The death toll from the virus rose to 9,584 on Thursday, Health Ministry data showed.

Turkey's top medical association and the main opposition party have criticised the government's decision to only publish symptomatic COVID-19 patients, saying it hides the true scale of the outbreak.

Late on Thursday, Koca said residents in Istanbul should avoid crowded places unless necessary. On Friday, he said he would be hold discussions in Istanbul starting this weekend to evaluate the recent rise there.

Turkey imposed weekend lockdowns, restricted intercity travel and closed restaurants and cafes earlier this year to slow the spread of the virus.

Almost all restrictions were lifted in June. The government has since enforced measures such as social distancing and wearing masks, and has imposed fines on those who break rules.

A senior official said on Wednesday Ankara was considering reimposing some restrictions to stem the resurgence of cases but will avoid throttling the economic recovery. Vice President Fuat Oktay later said no measures were on the government's agenda at this stage.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu Editing by Ece Toksabay and Angus MacSwan)

((tuvan.gumrukcu@tr.com; +90 312 292 7021; @tuvangumrukcu; Reuters Messaging: tuvan.gumrukcu.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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