(Bloomberg) --

Turkey reported 318 fatalities from the coronavirus on Sunday, a 10% rise from the previous day and the highest figure since the start of the pandemic.

As the number of new cases continues to hover among the highest in the world, an expert warned about the surge in the number of critically ill younger people.

Sunday’s death toll raised total fatalities to 35,926, official data show. Social distancing measures announced on April 13 have “started to decrease the speed of the increase,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a tweet. However, the nation ranks as the third in the number of daily cases, behind India and Brazil, whose populations are far larger than Turkey’s 84 million people.

“Alarm bells have been ringing for the past 15 days,” Ismail Cinel, head of the Turkish Intensive Care Association, told Demiroren News Agency on Sunday. “We now have more younger patients. The number of those heavily ill has been on the rise for the past six weeks. This is an extremely tough period for health-care staff.”

The surge also threatens the tourism industry. Earlier this month, Russia suspended most air travel with Turkey until June 1. Russia was the biggest source of tourists to Turkey in 2020, with 2.13 million visitors despite the pandemic. The Turkish government aims to double the number of foreign visitors to 34 million this year.

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