3 cases of Delta Plus variant detected in Turkey: health minister

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Turkey’s health minister announced on Monday that three cases of Delta Plus, the highly transmissible variant of the novel coronavirus, have been identified in different cities in Turkey, Turkish media reported.

Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca noted that one of the Delta Plus cases was in Istanbul while declining to name the two other cities where the variant was reported.

“Their condition is good, and they’re not exhibiting serious symptoms, so they are being treated as outpatients,” Koca said, adding that the number of cases of the Delta variant was on the rise, currently at 284, and that 30 provinces had now reported cases of the variant.

Health authorities say several major vaccines work against the highly contagious Delta variant, which is becoming globally dominant, but have raised concerns that some vaccines are not effective against the new strains.

Koca said Turkey has so far received 35.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is set to receive another batch of 1.5 million doses on Thursday, stressing that Turkey does not suffer from a vaccine supply bottleneck as the country is currently holding about 8 million doses of vaccines in stock.

Koca also announced that no extra measures would be implemented during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins on July 20.

Meanwhile, the scientific board has announced that people who had been infected with COVID-19 and recovered can get one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine instead of two.

Turkey also decided last week to offer a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine to people who had been vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine, CoronaVac, in the early stages of the vaccination drive.

Koca had earlier indicated that people aged above 50 and health workers can get a third dose and can choose between Sinovac and BioNTech for the third.

Turkey, which eased most restrictions on July 1, has reported nearly 5.5 million COVID-19 cases and some 50,000 deaths in total. A vaccination program has ramped up to more than a million shots per day.

“The epidemic is coming to an end thanks to the vaccine. Please get your vaccinations so you can safely look to the future,” Koca tweeted.

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