Environment minister tests positive for COVID

Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum has tested positive for COVID-19, while the country's top health official predicts that daily virus cases will decline sharply after peaking.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson Ömer Çelik announced on Twitter that Kurum contracted the virus, while Health Minister Fahrettin Koca informed that the minister is doing well.

Earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar also tested positive for the coronavirus.

Previously Meral Akşener, the leader of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, and Temel Karamollaoğlu, the chair of Felicity Party (Saadet Partisi), had contracted the virus.

This week, the parliament suspended work over increasing COVID-19 cases among lawmakers and the staff. The mandatory break in parliamentary work will continue until Feb. 15.

Meanwhile, Koca said the number of daily infections is declining fast in provinces where the Omicron variant of the coronavirus emerged first and spread.

"The [pandemic] situation is expected to follow a similar trend in all other provinces," the health minister tweeted, however, repeating calls for people to get vaccinated and take necessary protection against the virus.

Since the start of the outbreak, the number of daily cases breached the 100,000-mark in January for the first time and has been hovering around at this level.

On a related note, Education Minister Mahmut Özer said that as of Jan. 10, face-to-face education was suspended in 434 classrooms, vowing to keep schools open. He noted that there are 850,000 classrooms in the country's schools and those where in-person education was suspended constitute only a tiny fraction.


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