Turkey's COVID-19 deaths rise above 30,000, total cases top 3 million

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The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey's COVID-19 death toll rose above 30,000 on Sunday, while the cumulative number of cases topped 3 million, weeks after the country started easing restrictions, health ministry data showed.

The country recorded 102 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 30,061, according to the figures. It was the first time the daily tally has broken through the 100 mark since early February.

A total of 20,428 cases were recorded in the same period, raising the cumulative number of cases to 3,013,122.

Turkey began easing restrictions against the pandemic on a province-by-province basis in early March, at a time when the nationwide daily infection rate was below 10,000.

Cases have been rising in provinces across Turkey since then, but President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday no new restrictions would be imposed for now. He said he hoped people would follow existing restrictions.

Authorities have blamed the rise in infections on the new variants of the coronavirus.

The daily average of cases per 100,000 people in Istanbul rose to 251.12 as of March 19, and to 107.99 in Ankara, according to the data.

Those numbers compared with 89.9 in Istanbul and 39.84 in Ankara, both on Feb. 26.

Turkey, with a population of 83 million, has administered about 13 million vaccine doses in a campaign that began in mid-January. Nearly 8.02 million people have received a first shot and nearly 5.05 million a second dose of the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Andrew Heavens)