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Turkey records 340 deaths amid surge in Covid-19 infections

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey has recorded 25,980 new Covid-19 infections and 340 deaths Sunday, the Health Ministry data showed.

Despite a widespread vaccination campaign, the country has been struggling to contain skyrocketing infection numbers in the past weeks.

With Sunday’s figures, the total coronavirus cases since the outbreak’s beginning in the country reached 4.8 million, while the total death toll stood at 40,844.

The data showed more than 240,000 Covid-19 tests were conducted in the country over the past 24 hours.

For recoveries, 75,182 patients were declared recovered by the ministry, bringing the total figure to 4.48 million.

After witnessing an overwhelming number of new infections, the government decided to reintroduce several restrictions that had been previously eased as part of the normalisation process.

Starting April 14, special measures went into effect for the first two weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.

The weekday curfew now lasts from 7:00 pm (moved forward from 9:00 pm) to 5:00 am, during which intercity travel will also be banned, except in emergency cases. Weekend lockdowns will also continue in high-risk cities.

Cafes and restaurants will only provide delivery and takeout services, while wedding halls, sports centres and gyms will remain closed until the end of Ramadhan.

Ankara is expected to announce either new restrictions or the continuation of current measures next week following a Cabinet meeting.

On April 29, Turkey implemented one of the strictest lockdowns since the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020.

On April 29, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed a “full lockdown” from Thursday evening until May 17 amid soaring Covid-19 cases and deaths. It is the first nationwide lockdown lasting nearly three weeks. The Turkish government had previously opted for partial lockdowns or weekend curfews in a bid to reduce the economic impact.

Under the new restrictions, residents are required to stay home except for grocery shopping and other essential needs, while intercity travel is only allowed with permission. Restaurants are allowed to deliver food.

Some businesses and industries are exempt from the shutdown, including factories, agriculture, health care and supply chain and logistics companies. Lawmakers, health care workers, law enforcement officers and tourists are also exempt from the stay-home order.

Many people left large cities such as Istanbul and Ankara to spend the shutdown – which spans the holy Muslim month of Ramadhan, as well as the three-day Eid holiday – at vacation homes on the coast. Bus terminals and airports were packed with travellers, while vehicles backed up in severe traffic at the entrance of the Aegean coastal resort of Bodrum, broadcaster Haberturk and other media reported.

People crowded shops to stock up on food and other supplies even though grocery stores are to remain open.

Shops selling alcohol were not exempted and are being forced to close during the lockdown. Social media saw an uproar as users accused Erdogan’s conservative government of trying to impose its Islamic values.

This month, Turkey’s confirmed Covid-19 infections averaged around 60,000 per day during the peak week. The country recorded its highest daily death toll on April 21, with 362 fatalities.

On Wednesday, the country reported 40,444 new confirmed cases and 341 deaths. Turkey’s total death toll in the pandemic now stands at 39,398.