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The New Arab

Turkish over-65s enjoy outside after weeks of 'miserable' coronavirus quarantine

Citizens over 65 and under 20 have been barred from leaving home [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 10 May, 2020

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After seven weeks of strict confinement, elderly and chronically ill Turks are finally allowed outside.
Turkish citizens aged over 65 on Sunday enjoyed strolls in the sun for the first time after seven weeks of being barred from leaving home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Over-65s and residents of the country with chronic health conditions were placed under strict confinement orders by Ankara on March 21 as cases of the Covid-19 illness began to skyrocket. 

Earlier this week, the ministry of interior announced it would allow elderly and chronicly ill residents outside between the hours of 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. as long as they follow social-distancing regulations.

Turkish citizens aged under 20 who have been confined at home since April will also be allowed out during the same hours next week.

The age-specific quarantine measures are some of the strictest in the world, and their lifting has flooded social media with pictures of elderly Turks enjoying their first venture into the outside world after seven long weeks.

More than 30 of the country's largest cities were the domain of only essential workers and the elderly on Sunday, as the rest of the population was subject to a two-day weekend curfew. 

In the Aegean coastal city of Izmir, well-dressed senior citizens were pictured strolling along the sun-dappled seaside promenade, while images from the Black Sea city of Sinop showed one elderly man enjoying playground exercise equipment.

Other images from the capital Ankara, Turkey's largest city Istanbul, and the Mediterranean city of Antalya showed over-65s rejoicing as they walked and taking snapshots at scenic spots.

Musa Uslu, 68, told state news agency Anadolu he had not been out for at least 40 days.

"[My wife and I] gained a lot of weight while sitting inside. It will be good to go out and walk," the Konya resident said.

Huseyin Koc, a 70-year-old from Yozgat, added: "We've been inside for around 50 days, and we've been miserable. Now that we're allowed, I'm going to walk around a lot."

Salime Gun, a 74-year-old resident of Antalya, told the Demiroren news agency she had been "overwhelmed" by staying at home amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Dear lord, let's be done with this plague as soon as possible. I cry when I see the doctors and nurses working in hospitals. They can't even go home; people can't live like this," she said.

While many elderly are happy to have the opportunity to leave home, others are afraid the easing of confinement measures poses a high risk.

"I'll just walk. That's it... I think [it] is a highly risky trial, as this is an unbelievably aggressive virus that is extremely contagious," Ferruh Gencer, 66, told The Telegraph.

Turkey has reported more than 137,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 89,480 recovered as of Saturday. At least 3,739 have died due to the novel coronavirus.

It is the ninth worst-hit country in terms of overall cases but has seen a declining number of cases and deaths over the past few weeks, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledging a return to "normal life" in the near future.

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