Ankara rebuffs claims of inaccurate coronavirus data as cases top 9,000
The Turkish health ministry on March 29 reported 1,815 new coronavirus cases, marking the country's largest daily increase in infections, and 23 additional deaths.
That raised the total number of known infections in the country to 9,217, while the death toll has reached 131, it said.
According to the ministry's update, 9,982 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 65,446.
A total of 105 patients have recovered since the beginning of the outbreak, according to the announced data, with 568 patients still being treated at intensive care units.
Separately, Koca on early March 30 denied claims of inaccurate official data on the COVID-19.
“Claims on social media that there is an incoherency in the data we announced are completely unfounded,” Koca said in a tweet.
“The numerical data announced is based directly on COVID-19 diagnosis data. It is instant and real-time data,” he said, referring to the official name of the novel coronavirus.
“It is useless to distort the facts,” he added.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on March 27 urged Turks to stay at home except for shopping or basic needs to help contain the fast-growing outbreak.
Erdoğan announced further measures to contain the spread of the virus, halting international flights, inter-city trains and making other domestic travel subject to a governor's approval.
Turkish Airlines said from March 29 it would halt all international flights until April 17 and limit domestic flights to those to and from 14 big cities. Pegasus Airlines said it stopped all domestic flights until April 30, and Istanbul's smaller Sabiha Gökçen airport closed.
In a notice detailing travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside in and could only leave with a doctor's note, in the event of the death of a family member or if they have no accommodation.
It said that from March 29, airline passengers would need "travel permission documents" and that special councils were being formed to issue the paperwork.
Speaking to reporters, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the use of public transportation had fallen by more than 90 percent. He said a system had been set up at the border of every province to check the health of anyone traveling.
Turkey has already placed limitations on the use of public spaces, imposed a partial curfew for senior citizens, closed shops, restaurants, bars, parks and more.
The Interior Ministry also restricted taxis in the three most populous cities as part of measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Taxis whose last number of their license plates is odd will be allowed to operate from 12.01 a.m. local time on March 30 for the next 24 hours, said a circular by the ministry.
The circular added that the mobility of taxis whose last number of their license plates is even will be allowed for the same duration next day.
The ministry said the system will run sequentially for the following days.
Diplomats urge expats to stay at home
Turkey's foreign minister on March 29 urged Turkish expats to stay at home to curb the coronavirus' spread.
"Pay attention to the warnings of our embassies, consulate generals and officials in your countries," Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter sharing a video, including the messages of Turkish representatives abroad.
"The virus could not be spread to others as the patients stay at home," Turkey's Ambassador to the U.K. Ümit Yalçın said in the video.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kılıç, the country's Brussels Ambassador Hasan Ulusoy and several consul generals warned people to stay safe in their homes.