Governor warns Turks to avoid Black Sea region as COVID-19 cases surge

The governor of the Black Sea province of Amasya has urged the public to avoid the region altogether if possible, as the number of COVID-19 cases surged following several provincial congresses held by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Meanwhile, Trabzon officials told people to avoid gathering for funerals to avoid putting their families in danger.

Duvar English

Residents of Turkey should avoid the Black Sea region if possible, Amasya Governor Mustafa Masatlı said on March 5, as COVID-19 cases have been surging in the area following provincial congresses held by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Multiple Black Sea provinces were ranked as "very high risk" by the Turkish Health Ministry in the normalization schedule released a few weeks after the AKP held multiple mass gatherings in the region which many called "superspreader" events.

"We recommend that you don't visit our Black Sea region, especially the provinces that were ranked on red alert. If you have to go, we recommend that you return quickly," the governor said. 

The province hadn't struggled too much with the COVID-19 disease until the last month, Masatlı said, pointing to the time frame that the AKP held provincial congresses which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan boasted were "filled to the brim despite the pandemic."

"We've really amped up our efforts to fight the virus in the last month. Our cities were very badly affected by the spread of the mutated virus lately," Masatlı said. 

The governor urged everyone to adhere to all precautionary measures in order to lower the province's risk ranking, although the state effectively lifted a majority of restrictions implemented in social life. 

Meanwhile, the provincial health directorate of the Black Sea province of Trabzon launched an awareness campaign discouraging locals to visit each other for funerals. 

A tradition in Turkish society, funeral visits at the house of the deceased are a common practice and can gather hundreds of acquaintances in small spaces.

"Don't go to a funeral and make your family have to hold a funeral for you," the Trabzon Health Directorate said in the official awareness campaign.