Duvar English

Turkey’s deaths from the coronavirus increased by 79 to 356 on April 2, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 2,456 to 18,135, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Koca wrote on Twitter that 18,757 tests had been conducted on April 2, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 125,556 since the outbreak began.

“Our number of tests increased by more than 4,000 compared to yesterday. The ratio of our positive cases to tests has decreased. We have 82 new more patients who have recovered,” Koca wrote, adding that 82 percent of the patients who lost their lives in the last 24 hours were aged above 60.

Turkey confirmed its first case of the coronavirus early on March 11.

Since then, the government has taken a series of precautions against the spread of the virus, including halting flights, limiting domestic travel, shutting schools, bars and cafes and suspending mass prayers and sports fixtures. But it has stopped short of announcing a full lockdown in an effort to cushion the economic disruption.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is under growing pressure from unions and the opposition for a full lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus, but insists that Turkey should “keep wheels turning” in the economy and that people continue going to work.

In Istanbul, however, Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has been pushing for a stronger lockdown to slow the spread of the virus because millions of people are still going to work each day.

“In line with our prior statements, Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca has just confirmed that #Istanbul is the epicenter of the #coronavirus pandemic in Turkey with 60% of the cases. I reiterate my call for a partial curfew to be imposed for Istanbul as quickly as possible,” İmamoğlu tweeted on April 1, after Koca announced that Istanbul has the number of cases and deaths, with 8,852 cases and 117 deaths.

Despite criticism from the opposition and several NGOs, Erdoğan insists that Turkey is in a better shape than many developed nations in the fight against the virus.

“Thank God, we are at a better position compared to many countries, but we do not see this as sufficient. The biggest threat that disrupts the struggle [against coronavirus] is pessimism,” he said on April 2.