Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has announced that 134 people have been diagnosed with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus in Turkey, the Demirören news agency reported.
Koca’s remarks came at a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Wednesday.
World Health Organization officials warned on Monday that the delta variant is the fastest and fittest coronavirus strain yet and that it will “pick off” the most vulnerable people, especially in places with low COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Delta, first identified in India, has the potential “to be more lethal because it’s more efficient in the way it transmits between humans and it will eventually find those vulnerable individuals who will become severely ill, have to be hospitalized and potentially die,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said during a news conference.
Despite growing concerns about the delta variant, Turkey has been gradually reopening after entering its first full national lockdown in late April.
The number of new daily coronavirus infections has dropped from more than 60,000 before the closure to roughly 5,000 this month.
However, Turkey reported 6,143 coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, which raised concerns about another upward trajectory in infections.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey in March 2020, Turkey has reported 5,381,736 infections and a death toll of 49,293.