Turkish gov’t announces new measures against pandemic as cases overwhelm hospitals

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after a cabinet meeting on Monday, announced a new set of measures to curb a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“There will be a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. every weekday,” Erdoğan said, adding that a weekend curfew will be in place from 9 p.m. on Friday to 5 a.m. on Monday.

Restaurants operating delivery services will be exempt from the curfew, the president said.

Citizens over 65 and younger than 20 will not be permitted to use public transport, Erdoğan said, addressing age groups that are only permitted to be outside for five hours during the day.

“Funeral prayers will be performed by 30 people at most, and wedding ceremonies will not exceed that as well,” Erdoğan said. “Turkish baths, saunas, massage parlors, swimming pools and theme parks will cease to operate until further notice.”

Shopping malls will operate with individuals entering them only with a barcode known as “HES” obtained from e-government services that certifies current COVID status, Erdoğan stated.

Ever since Turkey reported its first coronavirus case on March 11, the Turkish government has been criticized for lacking transparency in its handling of the pandemic.

Professor İsmail Cinel, head of the Turkish Society of Intensive Care Medicine, has said due to the soaring number of coronavirus cases in Turkey, intensive care units are operating at 100 percent capacity, contrary to the 71.3 percent announced by the Turkish Health Ministry.

“Seventy to 75 percent capacity actually means 100 percent. We must be able to meet the intensive-care needs of non-COVID patients. People injured in accidents or who had a stroke or heart attack also need intensive care. If these patients have difficulty receiving necessary treatment, if there is a delay, it means there is a red alarm situation,” said Cinel.

Coronavirus deaths in Turkey rose to a record for the eighth consecutive day on Monday, when the country reported 188 dead, 45 percent above the peak of the first wave in April, and more than 31,000 cases in the last 24 hours.

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