Anadolu Agency's Morning Briefing – May 17, 2021

By Sena Guler

ANKARA (AA) – Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.

– Coronavirus and other developments in Turkey

Turkey reported a total of 10,512 cases, including 920 symptomatic patients, across the country on Sunday.

Turkey’s overall case tally is now over 5.11 million, while the death toll reached 44,760, with 223 more fatalities over the past day.

A 15-day period of gradual lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey has started as of early Monday, as infections began falling thanks to a strict lockdown that ended.

Customs teams confiscated over a ton of Captagon drug pills at the Iskenderun Port in southern Turkey, the biggest seizure of its kind, the country's trade minister said on Sunday.

Turkish officials on Sunday condemned the violence by German police on a disabled Turkish citizen in Frankfurt.

It is time to show unity and determination in Palestine, and Turkey is ready to take any necessary step, said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Following a devastating airstrike, Turkey’s top news provider Anadolu Agency has offered international media outlets targeted by Israel the use of its offices and services in Gaza to continue their duties.

– Coronavirus developments worldwide

More than 1.45 billion coronavirus vaccine shots have so far been inoculated worldwide, figures compiled by Our World in Data showed on Sunday.

China is the most vaccinated country with nearly 393 million jabs, according to the website data. It is followed by the US with more than 270.83 million shots.

The British health secretary said that the Indian variant of coronavirus could “spread like wildfire” among the unvaccinated.

Matt Hancock said there is a “high degree of confidence” that existing vaccines work well against the new variant, but those who are eligible for vaccination have to take up the offer to protect themselves and the country.

As France gears up to lift restrictions and welcome tourists this summer, it has offered free PCR tests to foreigners to detect COVID-19, Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune told Europe 1 news in an interview on Sunday.

– Israeli aggression against Palestinians

Continuing with its airstrikes, Israel Sunday bombarded a health facility in Gaza with two missiles, an official statement said.

Israeli warplanes also bombarded two buildings in the Gaza Strip that had offices of Palestinian labor and social development ministries, the government's media office said.

The airstrikes on Gaza destroyed a total of 40 streets and junctions, the Gaza Municipality said on Sunday.

The death toll from Israeli attacks on the city rose to 197, including 58 children and 34 women, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The number of injured has reached 1,235, while tens of buildings were destroyed or damaged.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Israel and Palestine to end the “senseless cycle of bloodshed, terror, and destruction” and return to negotiations for a two-state solution to the conflict at a UN event.

Addressing the same UN event with Guterres, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki described Israeli attacks on occupied territories of Palestine as "war crimes" and urged the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and arms embargo on Tel Aviv.