Turkey reports record COVID-19 infections as government avoids full lockdown

Turkey reported a record amount of infections and deaths from COVID-19 on Monday even after announcing tighter restrictions on the population.

The number of patients infected with COVID-19 totalled 6,713 in 24 hours, while 153 people died of the illness, the Health Ministry said. Turkey does not follow World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on reporting coronavirus cases, meaning real numbers may be much higher.

Turkey’s government has re-introduced a partial lockdown on the population this month, including closing restaurants to diners and keeping old people indoors for most of the day, but is avoiding more stringent measures in an effort to keep the economy growing.

The Turkish lira has slumped to successive record lows against the dollar this year, hitting spending power and savings, as the authorities kept interest rates at below inflation and engineered a borrowing boom to prevent a recession. The lira’s troubles have heaped political pressure on President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, prompting him to fire the central bank’s governor earlier this month.

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, the chair of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), said last week that the tighter measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 were entirely inadequate.

Infections are far higher than the government claims and all communal spaces across the country need to be partially or fully shut down, Korur Financı told Ahval in an interview last week.

“It is possible to speak of premeditated murder…because it is the government’s responsibility to stave off preventable deaths and take necessary precautions,’’ she said.