Turkey has completed the first phase of its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Wednesday, adding that the country will adapt to a "new normal."
"The pandemic is under control but the realities of the virus have not changed. Your homes remain the safest place against the virus," Koca said following a Coronavirus Science Board meeting.
He said Turkey had "completed the first phase in the fight against the coronavirus" but added that people must now have a "controlled social life."
"Our aim in the first phase was to take the virus under control. Our strategy in the second phase will be a controlled social life. We are moving toward a free but cautious lifestyle," Koca said following a Coronavirus Science Board meeting.
"There are two basic rules in a controlled social life. First, use masks if you have to go outside. Second, maintain social distancing," he added.
The results of our efforts to counter the virus, as well as success in diagnosis and treatment in the country, prove that Turkey has the pandemic under control, the minister noted.
In the new phase, the country aims to eliminate the disease, reopen businesses and set new social behavior guidelines to prevent any resurgence of the outbreak, he added.
The government will publish guidance for businesses to ensure the coronavirus remains contained when they open next week, he noted. It will also increase testing capacity and continue contact tracing efforts.
Shopping centers will reopen on May 11 with only a limited number of people allowed inside, but Koca said restaurants and cafes inside the malls will not open.
Barbers and hairdressers will also be allowed to open but weekend lockdowns will continue in 31 cities including Ankara and Istanbul.
Turkey's daily COVID-19 death toll dropped to 64, taking the total number of fatalities to 3,584, Koca announced on Twitter Wednesday. The overall number of cases, in the meantime, rose by 2,253 to 131,744.
A total of 78,202 people have so far recovered from the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease, COVID-19. The total number of tests conducted in the country during the outbreak has crossed 1.2 million.
COVID-19 cases have been reported in 187 countries and regions since it emerged in China last December, with the U.S. and Europe now the hardest-hit continents.
The pandemic has killed more than 258,000 worldwide, with more than 3.69 million total infections. Recoveries surpassed 1.21 million, according to figures compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.