Duvar English

Turkey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased by 23 to 131 on March 29, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,815 to 9,217, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Some 105 patients have recovered so far.

The minister added on Twitter that 9,982 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 65,446 since the outbreak began.

The tests in the last 24 hours show Turkey has almost reached its target of conducting 10,000 tests per day.

On March 28, Turkey halted inter-city trains and limited domestic flights as the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) called for a stay-at-home order.

“At this stage, it is evident that we need a comprehensive, wide and effective stay-at-home and quarantine,” CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a statement on March 28.

“It is not possible to solve this issue with campaigns like ‘Stay Home Turkey’ and by leaving it to the will and initiative of our citizens while not providing any wage or job security and abandoning them to fate,” he said.

Turkish Airlines said from March 29 it would halt all international flights until April 17 and limit domestic flights to those to and from 14 big cities. Domestic flights serving Ankara, Antalya, Diyarbakır, Erzurum, Gaziantep, İstanbul, İzmir, Kayseri, Konya, Malatya, Samsun, Trabzon and Van will be operated, but passengers must present a document proving they were allowed to travel by their governor, the airline said.

In a notice detailing the travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside in and could only leave with a doctor’s note, in the event of the death of a family member or if they have no accommodation.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said on Twitter on March 28 that all inter-city buses out of Istanbul would be stopped as of 5 p.m. local time. He said all picnics, fishing, and sports activities on seashores had been banned.

Governor Yerlikaya also urged Istanbulites to stay home for the next 48 hours in bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Fatih Sürenkök, a board member of İzmir Medical Chamber, has called for a curfew in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, as he also questioned the official figures announced daily by Minister Koca.

“The figures are not in line with the course of events in our country. I think the real figures are much higher than these numbers,” he said.

Separately, a group of prominent Turkish academics have urged the government to announce an extraordinary spending program to tackle the effects of the pandemic.

“The state should prepare an extraordinary spending program. It should include support for medical expenditures,” the statement read.

“Public and private hospitals must provide health services free of charge and the hospitals failing to abide by this must be deprivatized,” it added.