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Erdoğan refuses to declare 14-day lockdown despite calls from medical community

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has no plans to declare a 14-day lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic, in apparent disregard of growing calls from the country’s medical community, local media outlets reported.

The Turkish government has taken some measures such as imposing weekend lockdowns, weeknight curfews and closing down restaurants, but the measures have been far from effective as the daily movement of people has not decreased.

“Our scientific board does not have such a thing [a 14-day-lockdown] in mind. What the scientific board is telling us is to stay home on the weekends, from 9 p.m. on Friday until 5 a.m. on Monday. This is what they’re saying, and that’s what we’re doing,” Erdoğan told reporters on board his plane as he returned from a visit to Azerbaijan on Friday.

Prominent healthcare organizations in Turkey have been asking the government to declare a lockdown of at least 14 days in an attempt to bring the skyrocketing coronavirus infections in the country under control and save lives.

President of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı warned earlier this week that the country’s healthcare system was on the verge of collapse and can no longer cope with the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

She noted that a full lockdown would prevent the spread of the disease and lower the contagion rate.

The Turkish government has been widely criticized for failing to take effective measures to bring the pandemic under control. There are reportedly financial concerns behind the government’s refusal to declare a full lockdown as the country’s economy has been struggling with a coronavirus-induced slowdown, double-digit inflation and badly depleted foreign reserves.

In the meantime the number of coronavirus infections climbed to yet another record high on Thursday as the health ministry reported 30,424 new cases and 220 deaths over the last 24 hours. The country’s coronavirus death toll has reached 15,751 since March.

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