ISTANBUL (Reuters) -Turkey recorded 77,722 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, its highest daily figure of the pandemic, data showed, while the health minister said the Omicron variant would reduce the severity of the pandemic due to a lower hospitalisation rate.
Hospitalisation increased by 10% in the past month, even though daily cases jumped fourfold, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said after a meeting of the government's advisory science council that also adjusted testing and isolation requirements.
"We saw more hospitalisations with lower case numbers in the previous periods of the pandemic. It looks like the Omicron variant will reduce the danger of the pandemic," he said.
In late December, daily cases stood at about 20,000.
There were 145 deaths related to coronavirus in the same 24-hour period, ministry data showed on Wednesday. Deaths have not spiked in recent weeks despite the rise in daily cases.
Koca also said those who came into contact with someone who has COVID-19 would not be mandated to take a PCR test and would longer have to isolate.
He said only those who show symptoms of COVID-19 would be given a PCR test from now on, adding that those who test positive can leave isolation after seven days without another test.
(Reporting by Ali KucukgocmenEditing by David Goodman and Alison Williams)