Turkey sees record new COVID-19 cases, reintroduces lockdown measures

Turkey reported a record high of daily COVID-19 cases on Friday, the Health Ministry said.

There were 42,308 new cases and 179 deaths recorded on April 2, according to official data.

Infections have been steadily rising nationwide since the start of the week, surpassing previous totals set in the autumn.  

Authorities began easing restriction on March 1, when daily infections were less than 10,000, lifting weekend lockdowns in areas deemed at low and medium risk and allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen, including in Istanbul, the country’s largest city.

However, the government announced the return of nationwide weekend curfews on Friday following the surge in the figures, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.  

The weekend lockdown will vary depending on where provinces’ stand on the authorities’ risk map, Anadolu said.  

Restaurants and cafes will only be open for take-aways between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., while markets, grocery stores, greengrocers and butchers will remain open between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., it said.   Bakeries will also be open on the weekend.

Turkey began a mass vaccination campaign on Jan. 14.  Almost 9.5 million people have received their first doses of the jab, while 7.12 million second doses have been administrated, according to the Health Ministry.