Erdoğan announces new restrictions; Istanbul under quarantine
by NAT da Polis

A travel ban has been imposed in the country. Schools, universities, mosques, restaurants, hammams and coffee shops were closed ten days ago. The death toll (130) is rising. Out of a population of 80 million, 10,000 people have tested positive so far. Many Turks have doubts about official figures.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced new restrictions to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. He took the decision two days ago

The death toll, now at 130 deaths, is rising. Out of a population of 80 million, 10,000 people have tested positive so far. Ten days ago, schools, universities, mosques, restaurants, hammams and coffee shops were closed.

After describing the pandemic situation in the world, the president also announced, in agreement with a commission of experts, a travel ban within the country.

From now on, special travel permits will be required and flexible working hours will be applied in the public and private sectors, to accommodate the largest number of people staying at home.

Erdoğan also announced that parks and archaeological sites will be closed as of this weekend, and that special public health commissions would be set up in every regions of the country.

The president proudly said that Turkey has the means and capacity to overcome this crisis. He stressed that the measures taken will be short-lived and that the country can expect a radiant future. Any new measures will be taken without panic.

He advised Turks to stay at home, delegating (i.e. passing the buck) to regional governors the power to impose local lockdowns

Two days ago, Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya, ordered a 48-hour general lockdown with spot checks across the city of 20 million, as well as on public transport.

Last Friday, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced a quarantine for 12 cities and villages in the country’s north-eastern region in order to block the spread of the coronavirus.

This follows the quarantine imposed on the town of Kendrili, 4,000 residents, along with four neighbouring towns. Kendrili is located in the Rize region, also in north-east of the country, near the Armenian border.

However, fear is growing among Turks because few trust the government's information.

Dr Mehmet Ceyhan, virologist and director of the coronavirus scientific board, told the Hurriyet newspaper that the situation is not comfortable, given that at least half the population has not immediately adapted to the measures imposed. For this, the next five days will be crucial.

According to a study by Prof Yusuf Savran of the Faculty of Medicine at the Dokuz Eylul University, İzmir (Smyrna), based on statistical data provided by Turkish authorities, the number of dead and infected is higher than in Italy. The Izmir Medical Association also disputes the official daily figures released by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Many believe that the spread of COVID-19 in Turkey is due to refugees, but also to the easy entry into Turkey of Muslims of various origins. President Erdoğan waived visa requirements for Muslims entering Turkey.

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