(Adds details, quotes, COVID-19 figures)
ANKARA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Turkey will begin administering COVID-19 vaccines as of Thursday or Friday, President Tayyip Erdogan said, and will gradually lift restrictive measures as infections decline.
Turkey has agreed to purchase 50 million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine and has taken delivery of an initial 3 million doses. It has also agreed to procure 4.5 million doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, with an option to buy 30 million more later.
“Until a lasting solution is found for this problem, we must continue to lead our lives with restrictions,” Erdogan said on Monday after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.
“Surely, we will gradually lift the restrictions once the infection numbers fall under a certain figure,” he said, without elaborating.
Ankara plans to give the first doses to health workers and people over 65, followed by those over 50 with at least one chronic illness, in addition to those in specific sectors or high-risk environments.
The third group will include young adults and those not in prior groups. A fourth group covers the rest.
Turkey has imposed week-long evening curfews and full weekend lockdowns for more than a month in an effort to curb the virus. The curfews have led to a decline in daily infections.
A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said earlier on Monday that restrictions could be eased from February if the decline continues.
Reopening schools for face-to-face education would depend on the situation in February, when they are currently slated to resume, the official added.
Turkey recorded 174 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to government data, bringing the toll to 22,981. It also reported 10,220 new coronavirus cases, with the total rising to 2,336,476.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ezgi Erkoyun; Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun; Editing by Alison Williams and Giles Elgood
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