As the country's death toll from the highly contagious coronavirus reaches four and infections hit 359, Ankara has postponed all events related to science, culture and art amid ramped up efforts to fight the deadly disease.

Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul has seen significantly less crowds since the Covid-19 pandemic created panic across the globe. File photo from March 17, 2020.
Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul has seen significantly less crowds since the Covid-19 pandemic created panic across the globe. File photo from March 17, 2020. (AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree on Friday postponing all events related to science, culture and art, as it seeks to contain a surge in coronavirus cases.

Turkey confirmed its fourth death from the novel coronavirus late Thursday while noting that the number of new cases had risen by 168. 

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that an 85-year-old woman had succumbed to the virus. He added that 168 out of 1,981 tests conducted in the past 24 hours had come back positive, bringing the total number of patients to 359 from 191.

"Our pain has increased, but we will succeed," he added.

The decree published in the Official Gazette on Friday said all meetings and activities, indoors or outdoors, related to science, culture, art and other similar fields would be postponed until the end of April.

State news agency Anadolu quoted Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu as saying on Thursday that a total of 9,800 people were quarantined.

Erdogan said on Wednesday that people should stay at home for at least three weeks.

Ankara has suspended flights to 20 countries, closed schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues.

To alleviate the economic impacts of the virus, the central bank cut its policy rate by 100 basis points to 9.75 percent, while the government revealed a $15 billion package to support businesses.

Clothing retailers shuttered and malls, with some 530,000 employees and an annual turnover of $160 billion, are set to follow suit.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies