Turkey has expanded its travel ban to six more countries, making the total number of countries 20, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been added to the list of banned countries, Koca said.
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has suspended all congregational prayers in mosques, including traditional Friday prayers, amid coronavirus fears. “Including the Friday prayers, congregational prayers will be suspended in mosques. During this period, instead of Friday prayers, [Muslims] can perform noon prayers [at home],” Diyanet head Ali Erbaş said.
The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Sinan Adıyaman, has said that the association has been receiving unconfirmed information that the number of coronavirus patients in Turkey is much higher than 18. He also called on the Heath Ministry to increase the number of health centers performing coronavirus tests.
Starting early on March 17, Turkey is closing all cafes, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, gyms and other venues, the Interior Ministry said. All gatherings and activities by non-governmental organizations will be also postponed.
Turkish citizens studying abroad report lacking clear instructions from their schools and government regarding whether they must return to Turkey. Some students abroad were told by their universities that Turkey’s Council of Higher Education had told them to return to their home country, but an official from the institution refuted that such a directive was given.
Following the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Turkey, many people have rushed to supermarkets and stores to purchase bulk supplies of pasta, flour, cooking oil, lemon-scented cologne, and other staples, though medical experts say that a two-week supply is sufficient. The doctors warn that wearing masks or stockpiling cologne and pasta does not protect one from the virus, but changing one's lifestyle and daily habits will. The best way to limit spread of the disease is to limit contact with other people.
Turkish main opposition CHP holds congress despite worldwide cancellations due to coronavirus concerns
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) held its 14th Istanbul Women's Branch Congress March 15 amid worldwide cancellations due to the coronavirus. CHP Istanbul Provincial Chair and physician, Canan Kaftancioglu, was the target of criticism for insisting on holding the event and for giving a former party member a hug at his mother's funeral March 15.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has begun to hit the Turkish tourism industry, with sector representatives concerned about a rapid surge in hotel reservation and flight cancellations that have occurred as a result of the virus. Plane ticket sales have fallen by 80 percent due to the virus, according to Association of Travel Agency Managers (SAYD).
Utku Perktaş writes: New scientific evidence endorses that there may be a significant relationship between coronavirus and climate. As the environment gets dry, the weather gets warmer, the chances of the virus surviving in the external environment will decrease. However, although the climate is an important variable the host, which is the most important reason for the pandemic situation, is human.
Deputies from opposition Good Party (İYİ Parti) have called for a lockdown amid a surge in numbers of coronavirus cases in Turkey. The deputies tweeted calls for Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to initiate a lockdown as soon as possible to prevent further spread of the novel coronavirus.
Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were taken into quarantine on March 15 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Thousands of students residing in dormitories belonging to the Higher Education Loans and Dormitories Institution (KYK) were told to leave the dorms at midnight, with some unable to gather their belongings. The pilgrims under quarantine, meanwhile, complained about the dormitories being "similar to a barn."
Turkey will temporarily close bars and nightclubs as of Monday as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry on Sunday ordered the closure across all 81 provinces starting 10 a.m. local time today.
The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey has risen to 18, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said early March 16. Of the 18 cases, seven were people who returned from European countries and three came from the U.S., Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
Turkish President Erdoğan and his Azeri counterpart Aliyev agreed in a phone call on March 14 to mutually suspend road and air transportation between the two countries, excluding cargo. The move comes after Turkey announced on March 13 that it has imposed travel bans on nine additional countries.
People with HIV, the elderly, transgender people in transition, patients who suffer from a chronic illness, migrants and prisoners are at greater risk of the novel coronavirus. These risk-groups are especially advised to take care of their body and stay away from crowded places.