Erdogan’s Party Congress Draws Thousands as Covid-19 Cases Surge

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Thousands of members of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party gathered at a congress Wednesday, even as the health ministry reported a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.

“I am saluting you from my heart as the snowfall cleans all microbes,” Erdogan told a crowd of thousands in an outdoor speech before entering a packed sports hall. He is expected to restructure his party ranks today, ahead of a possible cabinet reshuffle.

The health ministry reported over 26,000 new cases and 138 deaths on Tuesday, the highest death toll for two months. The number of cases has been rising since the government eased virus lockdowns at the beginning of March and is now at its highest since Dec. 18.

Turkey Eases Virus Lockdowns in Areas With Lower Infection Rates

Thousands of party members traveled to Ankara from around the country for the congress. It follows similar meetings held by local party branches that media reports and critics have blamed for contributing to a rise in coronavirus cases.

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