Istanbul mayor repeats call for full lockdown as city's death toll doubles in November

The number of deaths Istanbul has registered in November has doubled compared to the average of the previous four years for the same month, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality announced on Dec. 8. Meanwhile, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu repeated his call for a full lockdown of at least two weeks to contain the virus. İmamoğlu's call came as Turkey once again set a daily record for COVID-19 infections and deaths.

A man walks down the street during a two-day curfew amid the spread of the coronavirus disease in Istanbul on Dec 6.

Duvar English

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality's (İBB) Cemeteries Bureau has announced that the number of deaths in the city in November has doubled compared to the average of the previous four years for the same month.

The bureau's head Ayhan Koç said that 11,500 people lost their lives in November of this year in Istanbul, whereas the city saw 6,000 deaths on average for the same month during the period of 2016-2019.

“There is a difference of 5,500. I do not know what this difference is. We have been receiving reports of deaths. There has not been a change [in terms of death numbers] for the month of November covering the years of 2016-2019, whereas the death numbers doubled in 2020, so there should a reason of this,” Koç said.

Meanwhile, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has once again suggested a full lockdown that lasts for at least two weeks. İmamoğlu made the comments on Dec. 8 as he attended a commemoration ceremony for Dr. Ümit Erdem, one of the several doctors who lost his life as a result of the COVID-19 infection.

“Can there be a more difficult thing for a mayor than to say 'Let's go into a full lockdown.' This is really difficult for a mayor. But let's do it, two weeks, three weeks. I know it is difficult But it is the opinion of experts to do this for three weeks to decrease the infection rate,” he said.

“I beg of them [central government] to take precautions. Let's fight for two-three weeks with everything we have got. Let's provide material and nonmaterial support; we can overcome this in two-three weeks,” he said.

İmamoğlu's statements came as the Health Ministry on Dec. 8 announced that Turkey's daily COVID-19 rose to a record 211 in the last 24 hours, bringing the country's total death toll to 15,314.

According to the official data, the country also recorded 33,198 new COVID-19 cases, including asymptomatic ones, in the last 24 hours, the highest number reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

For four months, Ankara only reported daily symptomatic cases but has reported all cases since Nov. 25. Historical data for all cases and the cumulative case total are still not available.

"We must avoid crowds and apply our own restrictions," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

Turkey ranks fourth globally in the highest number of daily cases, behind the United States, India and Brazil - all countries with much larger populations.