Turkey adds curbs for Ramadan as virus surges

Spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul
·1 min read

ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced new restrictions for the first two weeks of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to contain surging coronavirus infections, warning that tougher curbs could follow if case numbers did not drop.

Turkey ranks fourth globally in new COVID-19 cases, which hit nearly 56,000 on Saturday - a five-fold jump from early March when Erdogan eased social curbs. On Monday the health minister warned of a third peak in the pandemic.

"In the recent period, the rising case and death numbers mainly in metropolitan cities are directing us to tighten measures again. (...) We cannot remain observers to this trend," Erdogan said.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said the duration of a weekday curfew had been extended, announced limitations on intercity travel and public transport, and banned all events in closed spaces until after Ramadan.

The new measures will go into effect on Wednesday night and could be tightened within two weeks.

"The aim is to ensure a significant decrease in case and death numbers in these two weeks," he said.

"If, in this two-week period, we cannot obtain the expected improvement in the picture we are targeting, implementing much tougher measures after that will become inevitable."

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay and Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)