Turkey urges hug-free Eid holiday

Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged the Turkish public to maintain social distancing during the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Thursday.

“Especially, those over 65 years and those with chronic diseases should exchange greetings over the phone. There should be no handshakes or hugs," Anadolu cited Koca as saying following a meeting of the country's Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board on Wednesday.

In Turkey, the Muslim festival will be celebrated from July 31 to Aug. 3.

Koca warned against holding big gatherings or crowded meals on Eid, and said prayers should be performed in open spaces in accordance with social distancing measures.

He also called on people to be careful to maintain hygiene standards during the slaughter of sacrificial animals and the distribution of meat.

In his daily Twitter update on Wednesday, Koca said Turkey had recorded 902 new COVID-19 coronavirus cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the tally to 222,402.

He announced 19 new deaths from the disease, bringing Turkey’s total COVID-19 death toll to 5,545. 

“The daily reduction of new patients to below 1,000 is an advantage, as well as motivation, in combating the epidemic,” Koca said.