The number of people infected with COVID-19 in Turkey has risen to 947 with the death toll rising to 21, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Saturday.
In the last 24 hours in total 2,953 people with suspected virus symptoms have been tested and 277 were positive, Koca added in his tweet. "We've lost 12 of our elderly patients," he said calling people to warn the elderly not to go outside as the death risk gets higher with age.
The ministry also announced a 15-minute rapid test kit was being distributed across Turkey.
Ankara took its strictest measures so far Saturday, banning people over 65 and those with chronic health problems from leaving their homes. The interior ministry ordered all restaurants to shut down to customers except for deliveries and pickups. Earlier, the ministry banned picnics and barbecues as still too many Turkish citizens ignored warnings to remain at home.
No all-encompassing lockdown is in place in Turkey yet, but further measures coupled with public compliance of health advisories have left a visible mark on daily life. Streets are empty and famous landmarks and town squares, once swarming with crowds, are now almost completely deserted.
The Turkish presidency issued a decree on Friday, postponing all science, culture and art events until the end of April in another bid to curb the spread of the virus. Based on current trends, infections will continue to multiply.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a speech earlier this week, urged citizens to stay home for at least three weeks but stopped short of declaring a curfew. Most people have heeded the call, as a dwindling number of people are visible outside.
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