Daily coronavirus cases below 9,000 in Turkey
Turkey reported 8,962 new coronavirus infections on Thursday.
Among the fresh cases were 958 symptomatic patients confirmed across the country, according to Health Ministry data.
Turkey's overall case tally is around 2.36 million. The nationwide death toll hit 23,495 with 170 new fatalities recorded over the past day.
A further of 9,011 patients recovered in the country for a total above 2.23 million.
More than 26.89 million COVID-19 tests have been carried out in Turkey to date, with 169,847 done over the past 24 hours.
The latest figures show that the number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition has dropped to 2,512.
"The most important way to get rid of this pandemic is vaccination," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in the capital Ankara.
He urged everyone to get vaccinated when their turn comes under the nationwide vaccination drive.
COUNTRY-WIDE VACCINATION CAMPAIGN
Earlier on Thursday, Turkey started the mass COVID-vaccination campaign with health care staff.
On Wednesday, Koca became the first person to receive Chinese vaccine jab in the country after Turkey's official drug and medical equipment body approved CoronaVac for emergency use against the novel coronavirus. Following the minister, the members of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board were vaccinated as well.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also got the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.
According to data from the Health Ministry, Turkey has 1.1 million health workers who will be vaccinated within a month.
Two doses of the vaccine will be administered 28 days apart. Those who recovered from COVID-19 will not be vaccinated in four to six months following their recovery.
The first batch of 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed from China's SinoVac Biotech arrived in Turkey on Dec. 30.
Turkey has been implementing curfews on both weeknights and weekends since last month as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.
On Monday, Erdoğan announced that restrictions will be eased gradually as COVID-19 cases have been significantly decreasing recently.
Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 1.98 million lives in 191 countries and regions.
Over 92.56 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now over 51.15 million, according to figures compiled by the US' Johns Hopkins University.
The US, India, and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.