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Turkey Takes New Measures to Fight Rise of Coronavirus Death Toll

Turkey Takes New Measures to Fight Rise of Coronavirus Death Toll

Tuesday, 24 March, 2020 - 10:30
A woman wearing a protective face mask walks in a market at Eminonu neighbourhood during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Istanbul, Turkey, March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Asharq Al-Awsat

Turkey's death toll from the coronavirus increased by seven to 44 on Tuesday as the number of confirmed cases rose by 343 to 1,872, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

In a tweet on his official account, he said up to 3,952 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to around 28,000.

Turkey started imposing restrictions on grocery store opening hours and numbers of shop customers and bus passengers in addition steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus after the rise of its death toll.

According to the Interior Ministry, grocery stores and supermarkets’ opening hours will be limited to between 9 am and 9 pm, with a maximum of one customer for every 10 square meters of shop space.

Also, buses within towns and between cities will not be allowed to exceed 50% of the vehicle’s capacity, with space to be kept between the passengers, the ministry statement said.

Ankara has already closed schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues, as well suspending flights to many countries as it looks to limit the spread of the virus.

The health minister said that Turkey will hire 32,000 more medical staff and stop exporting locally made face masks so its own services can use them as the coronavirus spreads across the country, Reuters reported.

Separately, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has called on the government to stop under-reporting the number of coronavirus infections in light of its rapid growth.

TTB Chair Sinan Adıyaman sent a letter to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, stressing the importance of avoiding information blackout on deaths and infections by coronavirus.

“Turkish people have the right to be aware of the situation in order to realize the true dimensions of the current tragic scene caused by the virus’s outbreak,” the letter read.

Dr. Alpay Azap, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, announced on Tuesday that the number of infections is expected to increase to 30,000 over the next four weeks.

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