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 7,590 additional coronavirus cases Thursday, including 660 symptomatic patients, according to the Health Ministry.

The country’s case tally is over 2.5 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 27,187 with 94 fatalities over the past day.

As many as 7,811 more patients in the country won the battle against the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to over 2.45 million.

Turkey’s health minister announced that Turkey will start administering the coronavirus vaccine to people aged 65 and above on Friday.

“The vaccination for our citizens over the age of 65 begins tomorrow morning. The spouses of our citizens over the age of 65 can also be vaccinated if they are over the age of 60,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

On Jan. 14, Turkey began a mass vaccination campaign against the coronavirus starting with health care workers along with top officials to encourage public confidence in the vaccines.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s presidential spokesman urged the US on Thursday to end its support for the PYD/YPG terrorist group.

“The US should end its support to the PYD/YPG. It should say ‘stop’ to FETO’s activities there,” said Ibrahim Kalin during an interview with TRT Haber, Turkey’s state-run news channel.

Noting that the administration of US President Joe Biden came with many new promises and made statements that they would take new steps after the Donald Trump era, Kalin recalled a phone call with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan last week as the first contact with the new administration.

“We actually handled all the issues in detail there. So it was a phone call that lasted about one hour,” Kalin said.

Ankara on Thursday criticized the Greek foreign minister’s “unfounded accusations and slander” against Turkey at a meeting of the “Friendship Forum” in Greece’s capital Athens.

“At a press conference at the end of the forum, which claims that it does not target any country, Nikos Dendias’s unfounded accusations and slander against Turkey show that this initiative is not based on friendship but in fact on hostility towards Turkey,” Hami Aksoy, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement in response to a question.  

The Philia Forum was held in Athens on Thursday with the participation of the foreign ministers of Greece, Egypt, France, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and the Greek Cypriot administration.

A number of people suffered injuries Thursday when a violent storm struck Izmir province in western Turkey, according to an official.

Yavuz Selim Kosger, the governor of Izmir province, said 16 people were slightly injured due to a waterspout in Cesme district.

Kosger said on social media that the Alacati neighborhood in Cesme as well as Urla district experienced strong rain, hail and a waterspout Thursday night.

COVID-19 updates worldwide

As new COVID-19 cases continued to drop on Thursday, some regional governments in Spain moved to ease restrictions in defiance of the central government’s advice.

“It is fundamental for the regions to maintain restrictions […] and be careful with the UK variant. In Spain, we already have around 550 cases and many more suspicious cases,” Health Minister Carolina Darias told Spain’s Radio Nacional.

As of Wednesday, Spain had reported around 428 new cases per day per million people over the last week.

New mutations of the coronavirus first seen in the UK, South Africa and Brazil are more aggressive and more dangerous, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Thursday.

Addressing lawmakers in parliament, Merkel said it was necessary to extend the country’s coronavirus lockdown until March 7 as new variants of the virus could lead to a more dangerous third wave of the pandemic.

The US has finalized agreements to secure 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses, President Joe Biden announced Thursday.

The announcement fulfills a pledge the president made in January to buy 100 million more doses each of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The purchase increases the US vaccine supply by 50%, allowing roughly 300 million people, or most of the American population, to be fully vaccinated.

South Africa has secured 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, which is said to be effective against the country’s COVID-19 variant known as 501Y.V2, President Cyril Ramaphosa said late Thursday.

Delivering his State of the Nation address to a joint sitting of the houses of parliament, Ramaphosa said the first batch of 80,000 doses will arrive in the country next week. Health and other frontline workers will be the first to be vaccinated.

Earlier this week, South Africa temporarily halted the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which was due to be rolled out later this month.

Other developments

Myanmar began releasing tens of thousands of inmates Friday after an amnesty was announced, the first such release under the new military junta.

The National Administrative Council (NAC), chaired by the coup leader and country’s military chief Sen. Gen Min Aung Hlaing, announced that the amnesty of 23,314 prisoners was extended on humanitarian grounds as a gesture to celebrate the country’s 71st Union Day.

Those released include 55 foreigners. It was unclear, however, how many political prisoners would be released under the amnesty.

Meanwhile, Italy’s Five Star Movement voted Thursday in favor of a wide coalition government led by Prime Minister designate Mario Draghi, paving the way for the creation of a new cabinet that will be tasked with leading the country out of its health and economic emergency.

Five Star supporters eligible to vote on its online platform dubbed Rousseau gave the go-ahead to the Draghi government with 59.3% of the vote, showing that the once fiercely anti-establishment movement remains divided over backing an institutional government led by the former head of the European Central Bank.

The “yes” vote marks a crucial change in the nature of the populist movement, funded by former comedian Beppe Grillo in protest against the corruption of the old political class and its backdoor deals.

Copyright 2022 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.