Health Minister Fahrettin Koca called on businesses in Istanbul on Wednesday to come up with alternating shifts for its employees in a bid to halt a sharp increase in coronavirus cases across the country's most populous city.
Speaking to reporters after a weekly meeting with the country's Coronavirus Science Board, Koca said the biggest reason for the increasing infections in Istanbul was public transportation as millions of workers pack mass transit vehicles during rush hour, creating a perfect environment for the virus to spread further.
Urging employers to create alternative shifts to divide their employees and lessen the load on mass transit vehicles, the minister said irregular shifts would also protect businesses from losing its entire workforce in case of an outbreak.
“Where we need a solution in fighting the coronavirus outbreak is in the public transportation system,” he said.
“I’m calling on employers; do your best to introduce flexible working hours in your businesses.”
The minister also passed some of the responsibility to the citizens again, asking them to avoid going outside if possible and cut back on social visits.
“Don’t go out if you don’t have to. Don’t attend any ceremonies or celebrations unless you have to. This phase of the fight requires discipline,” he said and added: “If we can’t discipline our lives, we will have to face much more strict obligations.”
Koca previously announced that the coronavirus cases in Istanbul corresponded to 40% of the figures across Turkey.
Speaking about the situation in Istanbul again, Koca said Istanbul was at a critical point where the caseloads were not crippling yet but it required urgent action to prevent it from getting there.
“If we don’t take the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreak will spiral out of control,” he said.
Koca also added that the number of coronavirus cases in Istanbul has risen by 62% in a single week.
The minister also revealed the daily infection rates in Turkey.
According to the information Koca shared, the country recorded an additional 2,300 patients on Wednesday while 77 died of the virus.
The number of recovered patients in Turkey has neared 320,000 while the number of patients stands at over 386,500.
With Wednesday's figures, Turkey's fatalities from the novel coronavirus has passed the 10,000 mark.
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