Sun, 16 May 2021

ANKARA, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced tightening restrictions to curb the rise in COVID-19 cases, imposing a "partial closure" for the first two weeks of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"The recent rise in the number of infections and deaths, especially in big cities, has forced us to tighten up measures once again," Erdogan said at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

The hours of weekday curfew will be extended, intercity travel will be banned excluding urgent cases, and people aged below 18 and over 65 will be banned from public transport, he said.

Cafes and restaurants will only provide delivery and takeaway services. Indoor activity venues such as wedding halls, sports centers and game halls will close, while most of the grades in schools will return to distance learning. Weekend curfews will continue in high-risk cities.

The government will introduce flexible working hours for public servants, and the private sector will also be encouraged to do the same, the president said.

These measures will take effect on Wednesday evening and continue for the first two weeks of Ramadan, Erdogan said, adding that the restrictions could further tighten in the second half of Ramadan if the spread of the virus is not under control.

Turkey on Tuesday recorded 59,187 new cases, registering the highest daily rise since the beginning of the pandemic, according to its health ministry.

Among the new cases are 2,723 symptomatic patients, and the total number in the country has reached 3,962,760.

The death toll from the virus in Turkey rose by 273 to 34,455, while the total recoveries climbed to 3,424,733 after 52,104 more cases recovered in the last 24 hours.

A total of 306,563 tests were conducted over the past day, with the overall number of tests in Turkey reaching 42,199,485.

The country started mass vaccination against COVID-19 on Jan. 14 after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine. More than 11,479,000 people have been vaccinated so far.

Turkey reported its first COVID-19 case on March 11, 2020.

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