Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.
-Coronavirus and other developments in Turkey
Turkey reported 22,195 more coronavirus infections, including 4,002 symptomatic patients, over the past 24 hours, according to Health Ministry data released on Saturday.
The total number of cases reached over 2 million with the latest additions, according to the data.
As many as 25,516 cases recovered over the past day, bringing the tally to some 1.78 million, while the death toll climbed to 17,851 with 241 additions.
Across the country, more than 173,000 COVID-19 tests were carried out, pushing the total tests to over 22.28 million.
Stating that the daily number of patients in critical condition continues to drop, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter: “We are seeing the results of measures and restrictions.”
“We expect to see more evident results in the coming days. The pandemic can only be tackled together,” Koca added.
Meanwhile, the Turkish president said that those who threaten Turkey with sanctions will end up disappointed.
“We are determined to put across that Turkey will never hesitate to use its sovereign rights,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at a highway opening.
“They tried to confront Turkey using every method, such as using terrorist groups, coup attempts, political and economic traps, sanctions,” he added while speaking through a video link. “Thank God they have not been successful so far, “he said.
But, he said, Turkey can work with those who treat it with respect and fairness.
“We leave the door open for those who are ready to sit and talk with us on equal terms and agree with fair offers, “he said.
On Saturday, Turkey woke up the reports of 10 killed in an intensive care unit fire.
The fire at a private hospital in southeastern Turkey on Saturday cost at least 10 patients their lives, the country’s health minister said.
“The painful incident that occurred in an intensive care unit in Gaziantep upset us all,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.
“Other patients affected by the fire were transferred to nearby hospitals by our emergency teams,” he said, later adding that one of them had died.
The incident took place at 4.45 a.m. (0145 GMT) on Saturday in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at SANKO University Hospital.
The fire was caused by a high-flow oxygen therapy machine used to treat COVID-19 patients, according to a statement by the university. The nine victims were all aged 56 to 85.
– COVID-19 updates worldwide
Italy on Saturday reported 533 more COVID-19 related deaths.
Although numbers have decreased from 674 as reported on Friday, the country continues to register the highest deaths in Europe.
The country also recorded 16,308 new infections, down from 17,992 reported on Friday, confirming the trend observed over the past few weeks, which showed that the pandemic curve is flattening, but at a very slow pace.
Russia’s coronavirus death toll is now over 50,000, authorities said.
A total of 585 more deaths pushed the toll up to 50,374, while infections surged by 28,209 to reach 2.8 million, according to the latest data.
Russia’s overall tally is the fourth highest in the world, behind the US, India, and Brazil.
Recoveries grew by 26,109 over the past day to hit 2.25 million, leaving the country’s active case count at 514,340.
South Africa reported 8,725 new cases of the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, pushing the cumulative number of cases to 901,538, the health minister announced.
Zweli Mkhize said 274 more COVID-19 related deaths were also reported in the same period, bringing the total number of fatalities to 24,285.
The Western Cape, the country’s tourism hub, lost 101 people on Friday to the pandemic, followed by the Eastern Cape with 92 fatalities, KwaZulu-Natal 56 and Gauteng 15. The Free State had six deaths and Mpumalanga had four.
Meanwhile, Swiss regulators said Saturday they have authorized the vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech for COVID-19, the world’s first approval for ordinary and not emergency usage.
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health said vaccinations will be distributed free of charge and are set to start in a few days for vulnerable groups and will expand on Jan. 4.
The vaccine has already been approved for emergency use in Britain, Canada, and the US.
Doctors in Kenya are planning to go on strike next week as talks with the government for better work conditions remain inconclusive, local media reported on Saturday.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union said the decision was taken after negotiations for better work conditions broke down, The Star daily reported.
Talks ongoing for some eight months have revolved around medical cover and insurance, as well as the provision of protective gear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The doctors will join nurses and other healthcare workers who went on strike last Monday over similar demands, ignoring warnings from government officials that public hospital workers taking part in the protest will be sacked.
In a major milestone, the first train carrying goods from Turkey to China reached its destination on Saturday, Turkey’s transport and infrastructure minister said.
“Announcing Turkey’s power in logistics to the world from every city it passed through, the China Export Train is our victory in rail transport,” Adil Karaismailoglu wrote on Twitter.
The train set off from Istanbul on Dec. 4 and covered a distance of 8,693 kilometers (over 5,400 miles) across Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and Kazakhstan to reach China’s Xi’an city.
Meanwhile, Iran and Pakistan on Saturday opened a new border crossing point, in a move likely to bolster business and trade between the two neighboring countries.
The Rimdan-Gabd border gateway was officially thrown open in the presence of officials from the two countries, becoming the second border crossing between the two states.
Located in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Balochistan province, about 130 km from the strategic Chabahar port, Rimdan crossing point is suitably located for the import and export of goods across the borders.
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