April 16, 2021

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Turkey tightens COVID restrictions after surge in infections

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Turkey, which relaxed measures a month ago, has recently been reporting an average of 30,000 new infections each day.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced stricter restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the face of a rise in infections a month after measures were relaxed.

Out of the country’s 81 provinces, 58 are now in the “red” or “very high-risk” zone, including the cultural and economic hub of Istanbul and the national capital, Ankara.

Some 80 percent of Turkey’s 84 million people live in these areas, Erdoğan said after a cabinet meeting on Monday.

Communal meals during the holy month of Ramadan observed by Muslims have been prohibited, as was the case last year.

Mass gatherings in tents and other places for the pre-dawn and after-dusk meals will not be allowed, the president said.

The health ministry’s risk assessment is divided into four, colour-coded categories: blue for low risk, yellow for medium risk, orange for high risk and red for very high risk.

Weekend curfews will be imposed in the “red” areas, which had reverted to Sunday-only lockdowns on March 1.

Daily overnight curfews, from 9pm to 5am, will stay in place.

Restaurants and cafes across the country will be allowed to stay open at 50-percent capacity.

Turkey has recently reported an average of 30,000 new infections each day.

On Monday, the health ministry reported some 32,400 infections, bringing the total number of cases in the country to more than 3.2 million since last March. The death toll, meanwhile, stands at more than 31,000.

A nationwide inoculation campaign using China’s Sinovac vaccine began on January 14. More than 15 million doses have been administered since.

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