Turkey on Sunday confirmed nine more deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as the total number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 1,256.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Sunday evening that all of the 30 people who have died from the disease were senior citizens.
“Turkey has conducted 20,345 coronavirus tests so far, 1,256 of which came back positive,” Koca said.
“With every diagnosed patient, we are cutting off the spread of the disease. Let’s stay at home and not take any risks,” the health minister said, adding, “life fits inside the home.”
Turkey will now allow civil servants to work from home and in shifts as part of measures to address the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to an announcement published Sunday in the government Gazette.
The flexible work arrangements apply to employees of public institutions and organizations, said the statement.
The decision for state workers, who were previously being considered for administrative leave, will be valid until a new one is made, it added.
Ankara took its strictest measures so far Saturday, banning people over 65 and those with chronic health problems from leaving their homes. The Interior Ministry ordered all restaurants to shut down to customers except for deliveries and take-out. On Sunday, the ministry banned picnics and barbecues as too many Turkish citizens continue to ignore warnings to remain at home.
No all-encompassing lockdown is in place in Turkey yet, but further measures coupled with public compliance with health advisories have significantly altered daily life. Streets are empty, and famous landmarks and town squares, once bustling with crowds, are now almost completely deserted.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in a speech earlier this week, urged citizens to stay home for at least three weeks but stopped short of declaring a curfew.
The Turkish Presidency issued a decree on Friday postponing all science, culture and art events until the end of April in another bid to curb the spread of the virus.
Based on worldwide trends, infections of the aggressive virus are predicted to continue multiplying in Turkey.