First lockdown announced in Turkey

Turkey is undergoing its first national coronavirus lockdown due to the highest surge in Covid-19 infections in Europe. According to the Turkish Health Ministry, the country has recorded 37,674 new covid cases and 339 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The lockdown started on Thursday at 7 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET) and will continue through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and over the Eid al Fitr holiday. It has been planned to end the lockdown at 5 a.m. local time on May 17, as per CNN.

The country’s total cases since the inception of the pandemic are 4,778,700, and the number of deaths is 39,737, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

On Thursday, the streets of the country’s main city were jampacked with traffic and people. In the seaside town of Ayvalik on Thursday, the streets were full of shoppers hoarding the essentials before the imposition of the lockdown. “There are more people at the market today, and they are buying more of everything,” stated Hakan Keskin, a vegetable seller at a farmer’s market in Ayavilik. He further stated that Thursday was the “last chance” for vendors to sell before the “three-week lockdown”, as per CNN. Leyla Ilmen, local shopping at the farmer market, said that there were “more people than usual” and that “everything is more expensive.”

Earlier, Turkey had imposed Covid-19 restrictions back in April when the country reported its highest daily cases and deaths with more than 60,000 daily new cases. But, on Monday, the government undertook a more stringent step by introducing a national lockdown.

The lockdown was announced on account of the delays in vaccine rollouts, as per Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. To steer clear of the delays, the government has decided to space out the two doses for the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Now, the doses will be administered six to eight apart in place of the 28 days interval. Koca also expressed his concern regarding the import of one of the variants, i.e., B1.617, first identified in India.

 “We identified 5 cases of the Indian variant in Istanbul. Those cases have been isolated and are under observation”, Koca stated. For now, the highly transmissive UK variant continues to be spreading in Turkey.

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