Erdogan resists calls for lockdown as Turkey’s coronavirus toll mounts

Pedestrians wearing facemasks walk on a street in Ankara on March 30, 2020. (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is resisting calls to impose a full nationwide lockdown as the number of coronavirus infections is increasing by more than 3,000 a day in the country.

Turkey’s confirmed cases of coronavirus are growing at a faster pace than in many hard-hit countries during the same phase, according to a report by Oxford University's Our World in Data.

The report, which shows how long it has taken for the number of coronavirus cases to double in the various countries, suggests the numbers in Turkey and the UK doubled in just six days while it took seven days in the US, 14 days in Italy, 10 days in Spain as well as France and 57 days in China.

The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey increased by 3,892 in the last 24 hours, and 76 people have died, taking the death toll to 725, health minister announced on Tuesday.

Imam of Eyup Sultan Mosque, Hasan Tok, left, and Imam Metin Cakar, right, hold a prayer for coronavirus in Istanbul, Friday, April 3, 2020.

Imam of Eyup Sultan Mosque, Hasan Tok, left, and Imam Metin Cakar, right, hold a prayer for coronavirus in Istanbul, Friday, April 3, 2020.

The number of infections in the country is increasing by more than 3,000 a day, reaching 30,217 since the first case was confirmed four weeks ago, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

Although the number of fatalities at 725 remain much lower than some of the badly hit countries such as Italy and Spain, the infection figures show that Turkey has the fastest rising number of confirmed cases in the world.

Turkey has temporarily shut down schools, closed public spaces such as bars, restaurants, and gyms, and called off weekly communal prayers at mosques. The government has gradually increased measures to fight the coronavirus, by suspending international flights, border crossings and travel between cities, banning public gatherings and communal prayer and closing schools and most shops.

Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, urged Erdogan to impose sweeping restrictions in addition to existing curbs, warning about the number of people still out and about in the city of 15.5m people. “I don’t even want to think, God help us, about the way that this pandemic might spread because of those people who are still outside,” he told Turkey’s Fox News channel on Monday.

However, Erdogan has resisted calls to order people to stop going to work and stay home, insisting that the “wheels of the economy must keep turning”.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: 06:17 KSA 09:17 - GMT 06:17
Top