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Turkish gov’t to declare full lockdown to curb COVID-19 surge, columnist claims

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A columnist for the Sözcü daily on Saturday claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will declare a full lockdown on April 28 or 30 to bring the soaring number of coronavirus infections in Turkey under control.

The complete lockdown is expected to last until May 17 but might be extended for another week if the number of daily COVID-19 cases cannot be lowered by then, Deniz Zeyrek said, adding that authorities aim to control the surge in infections in time for the tourism season.

Turkey’s daily coronavirus cases dropped below 50,000 for the first time in over two weeks on Friday, with the country reporting 49,438 new infections and 343 deaths, while the nationwide death toll reached 37,672.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca stated on Friday following a meeting with İstanbul provincial health directors that the city saw a nearly 20 percent decrease in the number of daily infections, adding that there was also a decline in the number of inpatients in clinics.

However, the burden on intensive care units remains, Koca noted.

Following the minister’s announcement on Twitter, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) revealed that 1,117 more people died in İstanbul from April 14-20 compared to the average number of fatalities reported in the same time period in the last five years, which corresponds to an 80 percent increase.

Sharing a chart showing the İstanbul fatality rate, the TTB said in a tweet late on Friday that mentioning a decline in the number of daily infections in İstanbul amounted to “openly deceiving the public.”

On April 13 Erdoğan announced a tightening of coronavirus restrictions that included imposing earlier evening curfews, prohibiting in-person dining at restaurants and cafes, canceling weddings and other big social events and restricting the use of public transport for those over 65 and under 20 years of age during the holy month of Ramadan.

The new rules came as the nation of 84 million saw its daily virus infection numbers soar past 50,000 as it battles a third wave that was exacerbated by the rapid spread of the more infectious British variant of the virus.

According to a report by the Evrensel daily on Saturday, 9,103 people have died of coronavirus in Turkey in March and April so far, while the country was able to administer nearly 21 million shots since inoculations began on Jan. 14, with only 9.5 percent of the population receiving a second dose.

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