Some 85% of new COVID-19 cases across Turkey are due to the UK variant, the country’s health minister said on Monday, urging people to take further steps to stem the virus’ spread.

Out of Turkey’s 81 provinces, “the South Africa COVID-19 variant is seen in 285 people in 11 provinces, while the Brazil strain is seen in 166 people in nine provinces,” Fahrettin Koca told a news conference following the Coronavirus Science Board Meeting.

He underlined that COVID-19 risk map shows that 80% of Turkey’s population lives in the very high-risk cities.

“There is no dramatic increase in the bed occupancy rate of 59% or the intensive care occupancy rate of 67.4%, but the developments are serious and the data is cautionary,” he added.

Noting that Turkey like many other countries is facing a “new peak” in which the contagion is growing, Koca urged the public to reduce close contact and mobility.

“If our burden becomes unavoidably heavy, we may have to make [restrictive] arrangements like we have seen before,” he said.

Koca went on to say that while in last November 69% of patients in intensive care were over 65, this rate has currently dropped to 53%.

He emphasized that at least 30 million BioNTech jabs will be delivered to Turkey by June, adding that negotiations continue and the number of vaccines might be even larger.

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