ANKARA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Turkey will resume academic year in distance learning programs and start face-to-face schooling gradually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish minister of education announced on Wednesday.
"Distance education will begin on Aug. 31. We decided to start face-to-face education in classrooms recommended by the Scientific Committee on Sept. 21. The committee will decide which age group will return to school and when," Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said at a press conference.
Turkey shut down the primary, secondary and high schools on March 16 and launched a distance learning program on March 23 for around 18 million students as part of measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"If the increase continues at this rate, we may need to turn to heavy measures," Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a written statement on Wednesday.
Turkey confirmed 1,212 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, raising the total diagnosed cases to 244,392, Koca later tweeted.
Meanwhile, 18 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,891, he said.
Turkish health professionals conducted 67,237 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 5,454,988.
A total of 934 patients recovered in the last 24 hours, raising the total recoveries to 227,089 in Turkey since the outbreak, Koca added.
Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case on March 11.
Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19.
Chinese doctors and medical experts held video conferences with Turkish counterparts to share China's experience in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.