Turkey’s president says a full lockdown will start this week to fight coronavirus infections, marking the country’s strictest measure since the pandemic began.
All Turks will be required to stay home under a nationwide full lockdown starting on Thursday and lasting until May 17 to curb a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Monday.
Turkey had so far instituted only partial lockdowns. After the country lifted partial restrictions in March, infections and deaths soared.
The country logged 37,312 new Covid-19 infections and 353 deaths in the previous 24 hours on Monday, health ministry data showed, well down from mid-April but still in the top 10 of the world’s highest number of cases.
Announcing the new measures on Monday, Erdogan said all intercity travel will require official approval, and a strict capacity limit will be imposed for users of public transport.
All schools will shut and move lessons online.
Everyone will have to stay indoors except for essential shopping trips and urgent medical treatment. Certain groups including emergency service workers and employees in the food and manufacturing sectors will be exempt.
Erdogan told the nation, “At a time when Europe is entering a phase of reopening, we need to rapidly cut our case numbers to below 5,000 not to be left behind. Otherwise, we will inevitably face heavy costs in every area, from tourism to trade and education.”
The measures appear to be planned to avoid another spike around the time of traditional family gatherings and celebrations that take place when Ramadan ends in mid-May.
The new restrictions come as Turkey has fallen considerably behind its planned inoculation schedule after a quick start in mid-January.
It has provided both jabs to around eight million people and is pushing China to speed up delivery of its Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine after securing a deal for 100 million doses.
Turkey has also received its first deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and has reached a deal with Russia to start producing Sputnik V locally.