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 8,642 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, including 664 symptomatic patients, and 95 more fatalities.

The overall case count has now passed 2.55 million, with the death toll at 27,093, according to the Health Ministry.

Some 7,903 more patients won their battle against the virus, taking the total number of recoveries past 2.44 million.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey aims to vaccine 60% of its population, with the second doses of vaccines for people who got the first jab set to start Thursday.

Addressing a news conference in the capital Ankara following a meeting of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, Koca said teachers, especially those who will join in-person education, will start receiving vaccine shots towards the end of February.

Turkey announced last week that village schools and kindergartens will resume in-person education on Feb. 15.

Meanwhile, two Turkish soldiers were martyred and four others were wounded in an anti-terror operation in northern Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Thursday.

In a statement, the ministry said the two soldiers were martyred in a clash with terrorists in a pre-emptive strike against elements of the PKK terror group in the Gara region as part of the second phase of Operation Claw-Eagle.

The statement added that the targets detected were hit with airstrikes and the presence of the terrorist organization in the region was dealt a heavy blow.

COVID-19 updates worldwide

Serbia received a shipment containing half a million vaccine doses from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinopharm late Wednesday.

An Air Serbia plane carrying the doses landed at Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade.

The plane was welcomed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo.

A million doses of the vaccine arrived in Serbia earlier.

In France, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease was found to be circulating in the country since November 2019, a new study by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) has revealed.

The first case of COVID-19 infection, or patient zero, was identified on Jan. 24 last year in the southwestern city of Bordeaux. However, a case of suspected pneumonia at a hospital near Paris on Dec. 27, 2019, was later found to be a coronavirus infection.

But INSERM’s latest study based on a serological analysis of samples of volunteers has confirmed that the SARS CoV-2 virus was most likely circulating from at least November 2019.

In Greece, a top health official said the public health system in Attica, Greece’s most populous region, is under pressure.

Speaking on private TV station Skai, Matina Pagoni, president of the Athens and Piraeus hospital doctors’ association (EINAP), said the conditions are what prompted the government to decide on imposing a lockdown in Attica from Thursday.

Pagoni said 166 of the 230 ICU beds at all public hospitals in the Attica region are already occupied, leaving only 64 beds free, stressing that in the coming days, the vacant beds could easily be occupied as 1,430 patients are being treated in COVID-19 units and at least 10% of them could be intubated.

Germany on Wednesday extended its coronavirus lockdown until March 7 due to concerns over highly contagious variants of the virus.

Chancellor Angela Merkel made the announcement after a meeting with the premiers of the 16 federal states via videoconference.

Merkel said the strict lockdown measures have been effective and reduced the number of new infections in recent weeks, but she warned that the new mutations detected in Germany remained a source of great concern.

Spain significantly revamped its vaccination strategy to adapt to limitations posed by the AstraZeneca vaccine as the coronavirus claimed 643 lives Wednesday.
Although new infections are dropping considerably, with 18,144 new cases reported, deaths remain at their highest level since April 2020.

Compared to the same day last week, fatalities increased 78, bringing the death toll to 63,704.

In the UK, the number of people who have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine surpassed 13 million Wednesday.

Praising the National Health Service and the general public, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised news conference that “there is no doubt we have made great strides” in meeting the vaccination target that was set five weeks ago.

The latest statistics revealed that more than 90% of people aged over 75 have been inoculated against the coronavirus as well as 25% of adults in general. 

Other developments

Former US President Donald Trump will not be allowed to back on Twitter even if he wins the presidency, according to the company’s Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal Wednesday.

“The way our policies work, when you’re removed from the platform, you’re removed from the platform, whether you’re a commentator, you’re a CFO, or you are a former or current public official,” Segal said in an interview with CNBC.

Twitter on Jan. 8 suspended Trump’s account due to the risk of “further incitement of violence” two days after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol, which left at least five people dead.

In sports news, Turkey’s National Para Athletics Team won three medals Wednesday at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai.

The Turkish Sports Federation for the Physically Disabled said in a statement that Hamide Dogangun claimed the gold in the women’s 800-meter race with 1.56.60 while Zeynep Acet clinched a silver medal with 2.14.84 in the same event.

Also, Abdullah Ilgaz won a bronze medal, finishing the men’s 100-meter race with a time of 11.95.

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