Turkey expected to tighten weekend COVID-19 measures - sources

Orhan Coskun
·2 min read
Tourist couple walks along Istiklal Street in Istanbul

By Orhan Coskun

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is expected to tighten weekend curfews after a record rise in new coronavirus cases and fatalities, two sources familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The move is expected to be announced after a cabinet meeting on Monday, said the sources who requested anonymity. They said that new measures adopted on Nov. 17, including nightly curfews at weekends, had been insufficient.

"It is highly probable that the scope of the weekend curfew restriction will be expanded," said one of the sources, adding that a final decision would be made at the cabinet meeting chaired by President Tayyip Erdogan.

Further restrictions and intercity travel bans could also be considered for some provinces, the sources said, adding that Health Minister Fahrettin Koca would make a presentation on the situation and conditions at hospitals during the meeting.

The latest moves have done little to halt the rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths, with fatalities above the peak of the first wave in April.

"Cases need to fall a bit before the winter is fully here," the second source said.

New cases have hovered around 30,000 since Ankara began including asymptomatic cases in its reporting.

Doctors and opposition politicians have called for stricter measures. But with shops, restaurants and hotels hit by the new clampdown, the government has said any new measures will aim to avoid more economic pain.

New data on Monday showed the economy expanded 6.7% year-on-year in the third quarter of the year, when most measures were lifted. It had contracted nearly 10% in the second quarter and more measures would risk hitting growth in the final quarter.

The Turkish Medics Association (TTB) said hospitals had reached full capacity and were unable to treat new coronavirus patients. It urged the government to introduce measures to combat the "destructive impact" of the outbreak and said The tsunami we warned of months ago is happening."

The Health Ministry was not immediately available to comment.

(Additional reporting and writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Timothy Heritage)