ISTANBUL – Turkey has started the strictest lockdown declared so far since the beginning of the pandemic amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
During the complete lockdown that began on Thursday at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT), and will last until May 17, intercity travel is banned except for compulsory cases, and all commercial businesses are closed, with several exceptions.
Security forces have been patrolling the empty streets and squares in Turkey’s biggest city, Istanbul, establishing over 300 checkpoints while additional security forces have also been deployed at the entrances and exits of the city.
More than 400 gendarmerie forces and nearly 3,000 police officers are on constant duty across the biggest city, Istanbul, according to Governor Ali Yerlikaya.
Istanbul Metro Lines will be operative between 6 am and 9 pm every 15 minutes throughout the 18 day lockdown.
Turkey on Thursday reported 37,674 new COVID-19 cases, including 2,715 symptomatic patients, as the total number of positive cases in the country reached 4,788,700, according to its health ministry.
The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 339 to 39,737, while the total recoveries climbed to 4,255,714 after 43,253 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.
The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients stands at 2.4 percent and the number of seriously ill patients is 3,581 in the country, said the ministry.
A total of 278,108 tests were conducted over the past day, raising the overall number of tests in Turkey to 46,996,712.
Turkey started mass vaccination for COVID-19 in January this year, after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine. More than 13,647,000 people have been vaccinated so far.