Turkey considering increased lockdown measures

The Turkish government is considering intensified restrictions to the current two-week COVID-19 measures, which will expire Monday,  Sözcü newspaper reported on Saturday.

A decision is set to be announced after a Cabinet meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday it said, in a meeting that will focus on the coronavirus pandemic.

The increased pandemic restrictions will include an effective full lockdown until May 17, Sözcü said, but may extend further.  

Turkey in recent weeks has seen a surge in infections, reaching over 60,000, with deaths linked to COVID-19 registering over 300 daily, according to health ministry data. 

The country saw a decline in cases for the first time in weeks on Saturday, with the ministry registering 40,000 cases over the last 24 hours and 339 deaths, but the health ministry has drawn attention to the build-up in the country’s intensive care units while the vaccination programme has been slow.

New restrictions were announced ahead of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began on April 13, including increased daily curfews and weekend lockdowns, as well as a ban on all mass events and intra-city travel.

The country began its vaccination drive for COVID-19 on Jan. 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine. Over 13 million people have been vaccinated so far.