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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkey bans public smoking to reinforce mask use

Municipal workers disinfect an area around the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 12 November, 2020

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Smokers in Turkey have been routinely violating the mask rule which has been in effect for several months.

Turkey's interior ministry has banned smoking in public places across the country in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In a statement late Wednesday, the ministry said smoking would be banned on busy streets, and at bus stops and public squares when necessary.

It said the nationwide mask mandate in public spaces must be followed at all times. It said smokers were routinely violating the mask rule, which has been in effect for several months.

The ministry also said provinces can decide whether to impose curfews on people over the age of 65 after increases in the number of critical patients. The governors of Istanbul and Ankara have already reintroduced measures this week permitting senior citizens to leave their homes only between 10am and 4pm

Turkey has seen a spike in infections since lifting partial lockdowns and reopening businesses in late May. The latest health ministry figures show 86 died from Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 11,145.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that Turkey's restaurants, cinemas and other businesses will have to shut at 10pm to help fight rising coronavirus infections.

At the time Erdogan insisted that Turkey had not lost control of tackling the disease, stressing that the country's health infrastructure remained strong.

Turkish medical associations have questioned official virus statistics, suggesting that the real number of daily infections is substantially higher than reported.

Since July, the health ministry has been providing Covid-19 "patient" numbers, rather than the number of virus infections.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in September that the number only included people showing symptoms.

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