Turkey says coronavirus pandemic 'under control'
Turkey says coronavirus pandemic 'under control' as cases surpass Iran
Turkey insists that the covid-19 pandemic is being controlled, despite case numbers passing Iran - the "epicentre" of the virus in the Middle East.
The coronavirus pandemic is "under control" in Turkey, the country's health minister said on Wednesday, but warned citizens they still need to take the necessary precautions.
The number of deaths per day in Turkey has fallen in the past week, remaining under 100 within a 24-hour period since April 26.
And new infections are sharply down on the peak of over 5,000 in one day last month.
"The pandemic is under control but the realities of the virus have not changed. Your homes remain the safest place against the virus," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.
He said Turkey had "completed the first phase in the fight against the coronavirus" but said people must now have a "controlled social life".
Koca warned that the "second phase" would only be successful if people followed rules when outside such as wearing masks and practising social distancing.
Shopping centres will reopen on May 11 with only a limited number of people allowed inside, but Koca stressed that restaurants and cafes inside the malls will not open.
Barbers and hairdressers will also be allowed to open but weekend lockdowns will continue in 31 cities including Ankara and Istanbul.
Turkey has so far recorded 3,520 coronavirus deaths and nearly 130,000 confirmed infections after the first positive case was confirmed on March 11.
Turkey to test 150,000
Turkey is preparing to test 150,000 citizens to determine how widely the novel coronavirus has spread among the population, the country's health minister said Wednesday.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the sample would be done with both PCR tests that are used to detect antigens from viral infections and with antibody tests. He did not say when the testing would begin.
"We want to see the extent of the spread, the carriers and the condition of the patients," Koca said after a meeting with the country’s scientific advisory council.
The Turkish government plans to gradually ease restrictions it imposed during the pandemic. Shopping malls, barber shops and hair salons are set to reopen on Monday.
Koca said that during the next phase of the outbreak, people in Turkey should expect a "controlled social life."
"We are not returning to normal. We are introducing new a new normal into our lives," he said.
"The controlled social life will have rules of its own, and we will have get used to these rules and lead a new kind of life."
Agencies have contributed to this report.