Turkey will continue with its weekend curfews to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the country's president announced on Monday, with the next curfew to be imposed on April 18-19.
"As part of the fight against the epidemic, we decided to continue the curfew on weekends as needed in the coming period," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said following a three-hour virtual Cabinet meeting.
Measures will be taken to prevent unnecessary disorder which occurred in some places after the announcement of first weekend curfew, he said.
Erdogan said he is aware of difficulties people face while staying at home, adding the goal is to protect millions of citizens from the virus.
"Turkey will complete [construction of] a new hospital for COVID-19 patients in Istanbul's Basaksehir by May 15," he added.
He also announced the establishment of two new hospitals with total of 350 beds in Istanbul for coronavirus patients.
"Turkey continues its fight against coronavirus pandemic with determination," he said.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey makes significant progress in bringing coronavirus outbreak under control, adding that the country is facing no difficulties in supplying its people with personal health and cleaning materials.
"With measures taken, Turkey tops the countries which brought the outbreak under control in the fastest way," he said.
The Turkish president also ruled out any borrowing arrangement with IMF during the pandemic.
Erdogan underlined that Turkey has so far delivered assistance to 34 countries to help them fight the pandemic, adding that this support will also continue in the coming days.
He said Turkey has so far raised over 1.61 billion Turkish liras (nearly $237 million) donation as part of the National Solidarity Campaign to aid fight the coronavirus pandemic.
"Whatever the conditions are, the Turkish Republic has the power to ensure the safety of life and property of every citizen by meeting the health, food and cleaning materials needs," the president said.
On Monday, the death toll in the country from the coronavirus rose to 1,296. The country has nearly 61,049 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.
Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections have surpassed 1.87 million, with the death toll above 116,000, while more than 441,800 have recovered.
Interior minister's resignation
Erdogan said he rejected Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu’s resignation late Sunday which he had tendered over incidents that occurred ahead of the coronavirus weekend curfew across much of the country.
"I didn't accept his resignation and asked him to continue his duty," Erdogan said.
He also hailed Soylu's successes in combating terrorism, post-natural disasters activities in the country, as well as his efforts on ensuring public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Erdogan thanked the main opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli for his support to the government during the "critical time."
Earlier on Monday, Bahceli said on Twitter that his party is "extremely happy" with the presidential decision, adding that Soylu successfully fulfilled his tasks during Turkey's most sensitive period with his "ambitious, faithful, skillful and combative personality".