Turkey on Friday announced several strong new measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, a pandemic which has killed thousands of people worldwide.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the nation’s president, announced a curfew restricting members of the public under age 20 (born after Jan. 1, 2000) from leaving their homes unless absolutely necessary.
He also announced a 15-day ban on vehicles leaving or entering 31 provinces, including Istanbul – home to nearly one-fifth of Turkey’s population – as well as the urban centers of the capital Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, and Adana.
The wearing of face-masks in crowded areas including stores is also now mandatory, said the president.
The gathering of crowds in all open spaces, including streets, is not allowed, he added.
Erdogan also announced that in just three days, over a billion Turkish liras (nearly $149 million) had been donated by over 300,000 people and institutions to Turkey’s national solidarity campaign “We are self sufficient, Turkey.”
The campaign was launched by Erdogan earlier this week when he donated seven months of his salary to the fund.
“Bringing things back to normal in our country is in the hands of our 83 million people,” he said.
He said he expects everyone “to take their own quarantine.”
Erdogan also paid tribute to a Turkish doctor who died on Wednesday after contracting coronavirus from a patient.
One of Istanbul’s largest hospitals, Okmeydani Training and Research Hospital, will be named after Dr. Cemil Tascioglu, a professor of Internal Medicine at Istanbul University, he said.
The new measures follow last month’s closure of schools, cafes, restaurants, movie theaters, and similar venues as well as the cancellation of sports events.
Inter-city travelers are already being tested for high fever and coughing, with systems set up at borders of cities.
People who are older than 65 and/or suffer from chronic illnesses are also restricted from leaving their homes.
So far, Turkey has registered over 20,000 coronavirus cases, and the death toll stands at 425. A total of 484 people have fully recovered following treatment.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 181 countries and regions.
Data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections surging past 1 million, with more than 57,000 deaths. Over 225,000 people have recovered.