As the sights of people ditching masks, getting together and disregarding social distancing measures became common in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on citizens to "pause entertainment" for the sake of caution against the COVID-19 outbreak.
Erdoğan, outspoken in many issues, had been relatively quiet over violations of rules against the outbreak, relegating this task to the Health Ministry, which has issued countless warnings.
Speaking at a meeting with the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) provincial heads in the capital Ankara Thursday, Erdoğan said the outbreak "changed much" in daily life and everyone must "redesign their lives."
The president said it "hurts" him when someone is hospitalized or dies of the coronavirus, urging the public to heed to the three rules, namely, wearing masks, adhering to social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene. "We will have fewer woes if we are careful about these," he said.
"You see people who claim they are wearing masks by placing them below their chin. This is wrong. We have to be careful. We have enough hospitals and even better health care compared to other countries. But we still have to be careful about properly wearing masks and following other rules," Erdoğan said.
He also praised Turkey's health care workers and said the country has mobilized all its means in the health care sector to fight the pandemic, including using air ambulances.
"The public should see (how we fight the pandemic). Please pause fun activities in crowded places, at least during this period. It is better to pause entertainment than to be confined to the hospital, in a coma. Let us not worry our families, let us act with caution. We have to take measures and leave the rest to God," he said. "We can overcome problems caused by the pandemic only through solidarity," he added.