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Turkey removes park benches as elderly 'refuse to stay home' despite rising coronavirus death toll

Turkey's President Erdogan has advised citizens to stay at home [Twitter]

Date of publication: 21 March, 2020

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Some elderly Turks have ignored advice to stay at home, leading local authorities to rip up park benches from the ground in an attempt to prevent gatherings.

Local authorities across Turkey have ripped park benches from the ground in an attempt to stop public gatherings as the country's death toll from the novel coronavirus rises to nine.

Elderly Turks are reportedly refusing to abide by government advice encouraging social distancing. 

Earlier this week, Ankara has shuttered most non-essential private businesses, including cafes, bars and most restaurants. Communal prayers at mosques have also been cancelled.

The measures have seen traditional tea houses, a common gathering place for older Turkish men, close in an attempt to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

But local media reports indicate that many elderly citizens are ignoring guidance to stay at home.

Deaths linked to the Covid-19 disease caused by the novel coronavirus have overwhelmingly occurred among people over 70.

Local authorities across the country have turned to ripping up park benches from the ground to try to stop the elderly from gathering in groups.

Benches have been removed from squares and parks in Denizli, Sivas, Tekirdag, Kirklareli, Edremit, Edirne and Istanbul's Uskudar district, local media reported.

In a less-drastic measure, local authorities in the northeastern province of Trabzon have cordoned off benches using crime scene tape.

Trabzon authorities have also put signs saying "C'mon, go home" on benches in the area, daily Cumhuriyet reported.

The Covid-19 death toll in Turkey rose to nine on Friday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country currently stands at 670, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

Cases of the contagious virus have roughly doubled every day since Turkey's first case was announced on March 11.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday addressed the pandemic, encouraging citizens to stay at home in order to minimise the spread of the virus.

"We are running a relentless fight against the coronavirus," Erdogan said in a voice message sent to the phones of citizens over 50, adding that everyone should pray at home and avoid inviting over guests.

"On behalf of myself and my nation, I would like to express my gratitude to all my citizens who stand by us and act with a sense of responsibility in this struggle with the coronavirus. I hope we will come through these hard days together, God willing."

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