Ramping up measures against the outbreak which has infected 5,698 people and claimed 92 lives, Turkey also limited intercity bus travel, banned walks and fishing along the seashore and beaches, as well as jogging in forests and parks on weekends.

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic at Huber Palace in Istanbul, Turkey on March 27, 2020.
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic at Huber Palace in Istanbul, Turkey on March 27, 2020. (Murat Kula / AA)

Turkey suspended all international flights from Turkish Airlines as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday as the country's death toll from the pandemic climbed to 92.

"All international flights have been suspended for an indefinite period," Erdogan said in a press conference at a government's office in Istanbul.

Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines previously suspended almost all international flights with exceptions of New York, Washington, Hong Kong, Moscow and Addis Ababa whereas domestic flights and cargo operations continue as planned.

In addition to international flights, Turkish Airlines limited its domestic flights. The carrier’s flights will now only fly to and from major cities such as Istanbul and Ankara.

As for domestic transportation, the president said inter-city travels were now subject to local authorities' permission and only a well-spaced seating arrangement would be allowed on buses.

Picnic areas and historical sites will be closed on the weekends. Moreover, the deputation and discharge of soldiers from duty will allow for a 14-day quarantine period across 30 major cities.

Ramping up measures against the outbreak, Turkey also limited intercity bus travel and banned walks and fishing along the seashore and beaches, as well as jogging in forests and parks on weekends.

Pandemic boards would be established in all provinces of Turkey to implement swift actions, he added.

Adding that the minimum pension would increase to $233 (1,500 Turkish liras), he went on to say that the state would stand by its senior citizens, who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

According to the president, the government allocated over $15.5 billion (100 billion liras) to support the economy, which has taken a toll worldwide due to the outbreak.

Self-sufficient in medical equipment

He went on to say that Turkey has become self-sufficient in many sectors in the past 17 years with its growing economy, production and infrastructure, and it was ready to fight the virus.

"As we are able to produce products such as testing kits, masks and gloves on our own, which are of key importance to fight the virus, we are not experiencing any issues in this regard," he said.

Coronavirus testing kits have been distributed to all corners of Turkey and are free of charge for citizens, he asserted, adding the country was able to produce its own kits but also imported quick testing kits from abroad.

Stating that Turkey has the best ratio of intensive care beds to the population, he said they were scaling up the production of respirators.

Voluntary stay-at-home quarantine

President Erdogan called on Friday for a "voluntary quarantine" in which Turks stay at home except for shopping or basic needs to stem a surge of coronavirus cases.

"If we don't want these measures to reach a further stage, we must abide by the voluntary quarantine rules verbatim. What does this voluntary quarantine mean? It means do not leave your house," Erdogan said

"On one side, we will be taking measures as the state, on the other, our citizens will be taking their individual measures," he said.

The government previously announced flexible working shifts and home-office alternatives to all civil servants so there would be fewer people exposed to a possible infection. Now, according to Erdogan, all employees working for the private sector would also benefit from such measures.

Car parking in two main streets in the Black Sea province of Rize has been banned and the circulation of inner-city public transport will be decided by local authorities as a measure to fight the virus. 

After first appearing in Wuhan, China, in December, the virus, officially known as Covid-19, has spread to at least 175 countries and regions, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The data shows more than 586,100 cases have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 26,800 and around 130,800 recoveries.

On Friday, the Turkish health minister said country's death toll hit 92 while the confirmed cases climbed to 5,698.

Italy, China, Iran, and Spain continue to be the most affected countries.

Despite the rising number of cases, a vast majority of those infected with the virus suffer mild symptoms and recover.

Source: AA