Turkey’s coronavirus count reaches 18 as officials bring in tougher pandemic measures

By bne IntelIiNews March 15, 2020

Turkey’s officially recorded number of coronavirus infections reached 18 by March 15, although various experts have questioned the reliability of that figure and the testing kits the country has used to determine it.

The Turkish lira was showing more weakness in the face of the big economic blow the pandemic is expected to deal the country, trading at slightly over 6.30 to the dollar across the weekend, a level not seen since the 2018 currency crisis.

Although Turkey did not register a coronavirus case until late on March 11, Turks reportedly showed a lack of trust in the officially presented picture by rushing to strip bare supermarket shelves.

On March 13, Turkey said it was halting flights to and from nine European countries until April 17 as it brought in stronger measures to halt the spread of coronavirus. The countries are Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. Officials said the list could be updated, depending on developments. Turkey has already suspended flights to and from Italy, China, South Korea, Iran and Iraq.

March 14 saw Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev agree in a phone call to temporarily halt air and land travel between their two neighboring countries, excluding cargo.

On March 12, Turkey said it would close schools for one week and universities for three weeks from March 16. It has also been decreed that sports events must be held without spectators until the end of April.

In another move to counter the potential large-scale spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Turkey, interior ministry officials on March 15 said that bars and nightclubs in the country would be closed from March 16. The officials did not state how long the ban would last.

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