Turkey reports 27 coronavirus deaths, 961 new cases – live blog

Turkey on Thursday announced 27 new deaths due to COVID-19, raising the country’s total tally to 4,249.

The country’s confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to 153,548, with 961 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Turkey has carried out 1,729,988 coronavirus tests as of Thursday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a daily update on Twitter.

"Our new lifestyle is a controlled social life,’’ he said.

 He said Turkey would be moving forward with "freer'' measures in battling the coronavirus pandemic as the country’s confirmed infection rate and deaths continued on a downward trajectory.

Meanwhile, Turkey's Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has declared “mission accomplished” in the country’s bid to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In a tweet on Wednesday, Altun lauded Turkey’s healthcare investment under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and its strategy to deal with the pandemic. “The result? Our recovery rate is almost 75 percent. The pandemic has been contained. #MissionAccomplished,” Altun said.

While Turkey has only imposed partial lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, it has a high capacity of intensive care units, especially in big cities. Its treatment protocols have included starting anti-viral drugs as soon as patients are diagnosed with COVID-19 and removing, oxygenating, and reintroducing a patient’s blood, Bloomberg said

Some will likely see Altun’s pronouncement as premature – with members of Turkey’s governmental coronavirus advisory Science Committee recently stating that the country is likely looking at second and third waves of infections as it eases restrictions. 

(All times Turkish time - GMT+3)

21:05 - Two Turkish football teams resume training after COVID-19 break

Turkish football teams Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray resume training after players tested negative for the novel coronavirus, Fanatik said.

A total of six players and administrative staff from Fenerbahçe have tested positive for the deadly virus last month.

19:20 - Turkey announces COVID-19 measures for restaurants

Restaurants will operate at capacity decided by the health authorities depending on the size of the area to allow for social distancing measures, as part of Turkey’s freer measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, T24 reported.

Hotels will offer hygiene products and customers will wear masks all the time unless they are eating their food, it said.

12:55 - Turkey’s sales and exports of white goods hit hard by COVID-19 in April

Turkey’s white goods industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak in April, with a fall in domestic sales of 14 percent and a fall in exports of 52 percent, news site Diken said.

In the period of January to April, domestic sales had decreased by 2 percent and exports had decreased by 15 percent.

12:20 - Eid al-Fitr prayers will not be performed in mosques due to COVID-19

Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) said it would not be possible to perform Eid al-Fitr prayers in mosques due to COVID-19, news site Diken reported.

“Unfortunately, this year, the prayer of the feast cannot be performed in our mosques due to our nation's great struggle with the COVID-19 outbreak," the Diyanet said in a statement.

The country will be celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, under lockdown between May 23-26. Mosques deemed suitable by governorates and by the Diyanet will resume worship on May 29, as part of Turkey’s normalisation steps.

11:45 - Tourism ministry announces application criteria for healthy tourism certification

The application criteria and details on the authorising bodies for Turkey’s “healthy tourism certification programme" are now available on the programme’s website, the Tourism Ministry said.

The certification will inspect adherence to international standards of hygiene and social distancing in accommodation and food and beverage facilities, and aims to boost the country's tourism industry which has been hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme will be valid as of the summer but it is not mandatory, the ministry said.

Initial recipients of the certification will be announced on the ministry's website. 

11:10 - Over 65 year-olds can now apply for travel permits

Turkey's Interior Ministry has eased inter-city travel restrictions for those aged 65 and over, allowing them to make one-way journeys as long as they stay at their destination and do not return for a month, Anadolu news agency said.

One person can accompany the elderly travellers, and that person can return within 72 hours.

Citizens aged 65 and over will have to submit their requests for travel permits to the government’s e-portal.

10:55 - Turkey releases over 66,000 from quarantine

Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) has announced that 66,322 people have now been released from COVID-19 coronavirus quarantine, Anadolu news agency said.

A total of 76,185 Turkish citizens have been quarantined in student dormitories designated by the government after returning to Turkey from abroad.