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Turkey sends coronavirus aid to Italy, Spain in crates adorned with inspiring Rumi quote

Turkey sent medical equipment to Italy, Spain [NurPhoto/Getty]

Date of publication: 1 April, 2020

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Turkey sent medical equipment to Italy and Spain in crates displaying the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness."

Turkey has sent a planeload of masks, hazmat suits, goggles and disinfectants to Italy and Spain to help the countries combat the new coronavirus outbreak.

State-run Anadolu Agency said a military cargo plane carrying the medical equipment took off from an airbase near Ankara on Wednesday.

The items were being sent in crates displaying - in Italian and Spanish - the words of 13th century Sufi Poet Jalaluddin Rumi: "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness."

The equipment was produced by military-owned factories and sewing workshops.

The report did not say how many masks and other equipment were dispatched.

Italy and Spain are struggling to cope with the worst outbreaks of Covid-19 in Europe. Death tolls from the virus in Italy and Spain have surpassed the official death toll in China - where the virus originated.

In Turkey, more than 200 people have died from COVID-19 which has ramped up tests to more than 15,000 a day, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced Tuesday.

Koca shared the latest figures on Twitter, saying that 46 people had died in the last 24 hours, raising the country's overall death toll to 214.

With 2,704 more cases of the novel coronavirus, the official total of those infected has reached 13,531.

"The number of tests has increased by 25.2 percent compared with yesterday," Koca said. Health officials are identifying positive cases faster and with more accuracy, he added.

Turkish officials have repeatedly urged citizens to stay home and respect social distancing rules, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan advising Turks to adopt "voluntary quarantine" conditions.

On Tuesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said 50 towns and areas in 21 cities across the country had been placed under quarantine, but Turkey has stopped short of declaring a nationwide lockdown.

Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition CHP party called for a partial lockdown in Turkey's biggest city, sharing a graphic that showed a threefold increase in the number of people using public transport from Sunday to Monday.

"Failure to ensure social distancing poses an enormous risk at this time, when COVID-19 cases are surging in Turkey. Once again, I am calling on the government to impose a partial curfew for Istanbul," he tweeted.

Authorities have suspended international flights, shut schools and universities, banned mass prayers and imposed confinement for people aged over 65.

Read more: Libya is catastrophically ill-equipped to battle a coronavirus outbreak. Here's why

Erdogan has launched a public campaign to raise money for people who are struggling because of the pandemic.

He also announced a new 600-bed hospital in Istanbul to treat COVID-19 patients.

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