Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on Monday 29 new coronavirus cases had been confirmed in Turkey, raising the tally to 47.
Twenty-six of the latest cases are related to Turks returning from the United States, the Middle East and Europe, while three cases returned from Umrah pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Koca said.
The expected return of 21,000 Turkish nationals from the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia over the next few days has sparked fears that there could be a large leap in the number of cases. Some 10,300 Turkish nationals returning from the Kingdom were placed under a 14-day quarantine in university dormitories in Ankara and the central province of Konya in order to contain the spread.
While the Health Ministry has held its silence on the number of Turks tested for the novel virus, Habertürk columnist Muharrem Sarıkaya cited ministerial sources as saying 2,800 people had undergone tests since the first COVID-19 diagnosis. Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chairman Sinan Adıyaman said on Monday the number of cases in the country could be far higher than currently announced, adding that the Health Ministry’s approach lacked transparency.
The Turkish government introduced new measures to halt the spread of the virus, suspending congregational prayers at mosques and closing restaurants, cafes, movie theaters, wedding and event venues. Flights from a total of 20 countries have been banned.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on Monday that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would announce financial and economic measures to combat the impact of the coronavirus this week. He is due to chair a meeting of ministers and senior officials on Wednesday.
(All times local, GMT +3)
11:55 – Coronavirus task force member says curfew not necessary for Turkey
Despite 29 new confirmed cases of coronavirus announced yesterday, Turkey has decided against strict curfew measures similar to Italy, Dr Alpay Azap, a member of Turkey’s Coronavirus Science Council, said during a televised debate on Monday.
11:30 – Turkish opposition criticises pilgrimage returnees for not following quarantine instructions, says jobless benefits must be widened
Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy leader Faik Öztrak criticised people returning from pilgrimage to the holy sites Saudi Arabia, where there were 103 cases of coronavirus as of Saturday evening, for not following quarantine instructions.
He said the returnees must follow Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s instruction self-isolate for 14 days after ruling party members shared photos of themselves meeting those arriving from the pilgrimage.
He also said the government should pay part of paid leave from the country’s unemployment benefits fund and the paid leave periods should be extended.