Turkey halted intercity trains and limited domestic flights on March 28, as the main opposition called for a stay-at-home order after coronavirus cases surged to more than 7,000.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on March 27 for a “voluntary quarantine” in which Turks stay at home except for shopping or basic needs to help contain the fast-growing outbreak.
On March 28, the death toll from the outbreak rose by 16 to 108, as the number of confirmed cases jumped by 1,704 to 7,402, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) called for a stay-at-home order to be imposed urgently.
“At this stage, it is evident that we need a comprehensive, wide and effective stay-at-home and quarantine,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a statement on March 28.
“It is not possible to solve this issue with campaigns like ‘Stay Home Turkey’ and by leaving it to the will and initiative of our citizens while not providing any wage or job security and abandoning them to fate,” he said.
Erdoğan announced further measures to contain the spread of the virus, halting international flights, intercity trains and making other domestic travel subject to a governor’s approval.
Turkish Airlines said from March 29 it would halt all international flights until April 17 and limit domestic flights to those to and from 14 big cities. Pegasus Airlines said it stopped all domestic flights until April 30 and Istanbul’s smaller Sabiha Gökçen Airport closed.
In a notice detailing travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside in and could only leave with a doctor’s note, in the event of the death of a family member or if they have no accommodation.
It said that from March 29, airline passengers would need “travel permission documents” and that special councils were being formed to issue the paperwork.
Speaking to reporters, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the use of public transportation had fallen by more than 90%. He said a system had been set up at the border of every province to check the health of anyone travelling.
On March 27, Turkish authorities quarantined one town and four villages in the Black Sea province of Rize over the outbreak. On March 28 two more villages in the Van and Yozgat provinces were quarantined, their local governors said.
Turkey has already placed limitations on the use of public spaces, imposed a partial curfew for senior citizens, closed shops, restaurants, bars, parks and more.
The rate of increase in infections in Turkey has outstripped many other countries in the last two weeks, with 1,704 new cases in the last 24 hours.
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