Turkey news roundup – Coronavirus Update – Mar. 19, 2020

People wearing protective face masks, due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) concerns, walk at Taksim square in central Istanbul, Turkey, March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

Over the past week, following Turkey’s first confirmed case of COVID-19, Turkey has moved quickly to urge precaution and take steps to help prevent the outbreak from spiraling.

Coronavirus

Turkey continues to take measures to contain spread of Coronavirus within its borders. The country has also taken several steps to address the economic fallout. On Tuesday, Turkey’s Central Bank cut interests rates by 100 basis points at an extraordinary meeting to boost liquidity, while the government has pledged to ensure all banks have access to required liquidity. On Wednesday, Turkey also unveiled a 100 billion lira relief package which includes debt payment delays and tax cuts across various sectors affected by the crisis. On Thursday, Turkey’s Treasury and Finance Minister announced that as part of the relief package, $8-9 billion of liquidity would be provided to markets over the next three months.

On Monday this week, Turkey announced that all bars, restaurants, cafes, wedding venues, movie theaters, gyms and spas would be closing to limit public gatherings in an effort to curb transmission. Mosques across the country will also halt public prayer ceremonies. In response, the once busy streets of large cities across the country have been left relatively empty. Additionally, more and more workers are teleworking, leaving traffic and public transportation systems less congested. At the same time, municipalities carry on their cleaning and disinfecting work simultaneously.   

On Wednesday, Turkey completed an evacuation of Turkish nationals in Europe, which, according to the WHO, has become the new epicenter of the disease. Some 2,800 people who requested evacuation were brought back in special flights. The evacuees will be held in quarantine for 14 days.

Turkey’s president chaired a meeting with ministers, bankers and business leaders to discuss measures against coronavirus on Wednesday evening. President Erdoğan urged Turks to stay home as much as possible and follow stringent precautions to prevent transmission and infection.

On Thursday March 19, Turkey reported its second fatality from the novel coronavirus. The outbreak in Turkey has spread quickly over the past week with now 191 confirmed cases. Still among the lowest numbers on the globe.

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