Shop, bus restrictions in Turkey as coronavirus toll reaches 37

Ankara set curbs on grocery store opening hours and numbers of shop customers and bus passengers on Tuesday, adding to steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus after the country’s death toll from the illness rose to 37.

The government has already closed schools, cafes, and bars, banned mass prayers, and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues, as well as suspending flights to many countries as it looks to limit the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the new death toll overnight and said the number of confirmed cases rose by 293 on Monday to 1,529, with a total of more than 24,000 tests carried out on people.

In the latest moves, the Interior Ministry said grocery stores and supermarkets’ opening hours would be limited to between 9 am (0600 GMT) and 9 pm (2100 GMT), with a maximum of one customer for every 10 square meters of shop space.

Buses within towns and between cities will not be allowed to exceed 50% of the vehicle’s capacity, with space to be kept between the passengers, the ministry statement said.

Separately, the Turkish Competition Board said on Monday night there had been opportunistic, excessive food price rises, notably for fruit and vegetable products, and said it would impose severe fines on those found to be responsible.

On Monday evening, the health minister said that Turkey would hire 32,000 more medical staff and stop exporting locally made face masks so its own services can use them as the coronavirus spreads across the country.

He said Turkey had ordered rapid testing kits from China, as well as medicine that he said he had been used to treating coronavirus patients – though he did not give details on the treatments.

“We have activated the rapid test kit. Today, 50,000 arrived from China. On Thursday, 300,000 additional kits will come, and we have made arrangements to use up to one million kits,” Koca told a news conference.

Shops close across Turkey, dimming hopes of a boom year

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