Turkey’s daily COVID-19 cases approach 60,000 as lockdown tightened

Turkey reported another record high of COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, saying 59,187 had caught the virus in the previous 24 hours.

The figure was the fourth highest globally, according to Worldometer. Turkey, with a population of 84 million, trailed India, the United States and Brazil, which have larger populations of 1.4 billion, 213 million and 332 million, respectively. India reported 185,248 new cases.

Infections in Turkey have surged after the government eased curbs on the population on March 1, when daily cases stood at less than 10,000. It has since reintroduced many of the restrictions. On Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a longer two-week evening curfew beginning on Wednesday to coincide with the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

The curfew on the population will be enforced from 7 p.m. each day instead of a previous 9 p.m. and will last until 5 a.m.

The total number of cases of COVID-19 rose to 3,962,760, the Health Ministry said. It recorded 273 daily fatalities, bringing the death toll to 34,455.

As well as presenting an increasing risk to public health, the upsurge in infections is threatening the country’s tourism industry, which provided about $35 billion in revenue to the $717 billion economy in 2019.

The government also prohibited long distance travel on weekends, except in cases of emergencies. Cafes, coffee houses, clubs, tea gardens, gyms and shopping malls will suspend activities until after Ramadan, which ends on May 12. Restaurants will only provide food via take-aways and deliveries. It also banned mass fast-breaking events and similar events.

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city of almost 16 million people, recorded the second highest weekly infection rate of the country’s 81 provinces with 804.97 cases per 100,000. It had recorded 591.45 cases per 100,000 a week ago.

The highest infection rate occurred in the northwestern province of Kırklareli, which had 882.13 cases per 100,000 people over the past week, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.