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Turkey announces some measures to contain coronavirus pandemic

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The Turkish government, which is being criticized for allowing the coronavirus pandemic to get out of control by not taking adequate steps to contain it, has announced some measures in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, according to Turkish media outlets.

As part of the new measures announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following a cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening, businesses such as restaurants, pastry shops, hairdressers, swimming pools, Internet cafes, theaters and cinemas will be closed at 10 p.m. Restaurants will be allowed to make home deliveries after that time.

“Despite the worrying rise of [coronavirus] cases in some cities from time to time, the situation is under control. Our daily number of patients is under control,” said Erdoğan, in denial of reports suggesting that hospitals are overwhelmed due to a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus patients.

Earlier this week the governor of a northwestern Turkish province, Kırklareli Governor Osman Bilgin, warned that doctors in the city may soon be obliged to decide who gets COVID-19 treatment and who doesn’t as the hospitals are overwhelmed due to a surge in the number of coronavirus patients. He said the intensive care units in the city’s hospitals are currently full. Similar reports are coming from other parts of Turkey as well.

The Turkish government refuses to declare a lockdown or take preventative measures to bring the pandemic under control. A partial lockdown declared in the spring months was lifted in June.

The İstanbul Governor’s Office on Wednesday also announced measures to slow down the spread of the pandemic in the country’s most populous city.

As part of the measures announced by İstanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, individuals over the age of 60, pregnant women and women who work as public servants and have children under the age of 10 as well as individuals suffering from chronic disease will be able to work from home. People employed in industry will be able to begin work at 7 a.m.

In the meantime, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Wednesday asked İstanbul residents not to leave the city unless necessary to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

“If you live in İstanbul, don’t leave the city. Around 40 percent of the [coronavirus] cases in Turkey are in İstanbul. You can be an asymptomatic patient or someone who had contact with a coronavirus patient but went unnoticed. If the travel is not very urgent, delay it,” tweeted Koca.

The Turkish government also does not reveal the exact number of people infected with the coronavirus every day. The Health Ministry instead announces the number of “patients” who are being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, while people who have been infected with the virus but not hospitalized are excluded from the numbers.

According to a chart released by the Turkish Health Ministry on Tuesday, there were 2,343 coronavirus “patients” in Turkey over the past 24 hours, with 79 people dying from COVID-19.

The COVID-19 death toll in the country stands at 10,481, while the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units is 2,386.

Turkey reported its first COVID-19 case on March 11.

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