Turkey records lowest death toll since March on third day of lockdown – live blog

Turkey’s official coronavirus death toll has risen by 31 in the past 24 hours, the lowest figure registered in the country since March 30, according to the Health Ministry’s latest data on Monday.

The country's total COVID-19 death toll has reached 4,171, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in his daily update on Twitter, pointing to declining number of patients in intensive care and on respirators.

“The number of new cases are following a foreseeable trajectory,” Koca said.

Koca urged citizens to remain at home, crediting ongoing curfews with the decreasing pandemic figures.

Turkey recorded 1,158 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the third day of a 15-province wide four-day lockdown to curb the pandemic.

The total number of coronavirus tests conducted since Sunday evening stood at 25,141, raising the total number of tests administered during Turkey’s outbreak to more than 1.65 million. 

Turkey’s recovery counts since Sunday rose by 1,615 to reach 111,577.

State-run Anadolu news agency said on Sunday that Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy had begun a telephone diplomacy drive with 70 countries to assure them about the country’s health measures over the pandemic.

Turkey is striving to restore its tourism sector, a major contributor to the economy which has been hit hard by the coronavirus. It has announced a new coronavirus-free certification programme for the industry which it hopes can help allay tourists’ fears of travelling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry is giving certificates to COVID-19-free businesses and Ersoy said he expected domestic tourism to resume after the Eid al-Fitr holiday on May 28. He envisaged international tourism kicking off in mid-June if COVID-19 statistics continue on a downward trend.

(All times Turkish time - GMT+3)

22:45 - Over 70,000 nationals repatriated from 115 countries - foreign minister

Turkey has repatriated over 70,000 nationals from 115 countries during the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said. 

Following a phone call with his U.S. counterpart, Mike Pompeo, Çavuşoğlu stressed cooperation with the United States on the return home of nationals, Diken news site reported.

“They repatriated about 4,000 U.S. nationals from Turkey and we brought home approximately the same number of nationals from various states. We are supporting one another on the matter,” Çavuşoğlu said.

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AFP, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (left) with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo

21:45 - Distance learning to continue until end of school year - ministry

The Turkish Education Ministry has announced that the distance-learning programme, implemented as part of measures to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, would continue until the end of the current academic year.

Accordingly, the extension of the distance-learning programme, which began on March 23, will continue until June 19, T24 news site said. 

17:20 - 13-member group fined for violating curfew in Istanbul

A group of 13 men were fined for violating a four-day lockdown in Istanbul, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The group of friends were found roaming the streets of the city, only one was wearing a face mask and none were following social distancing measures, the newspaper said.

Police handed down each of the men a 3,150 lira ($457) fine and sent them off in separate directions, Cumhuriyet said.

17:00 - Turkey to hold digital celebration for Youth and Sports Day

The commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day on May 19 will take place in digital format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, news site Diken reported.

May 19 follows other Turkish national holidays, such as April 23 Children’s Day,  as a national holiday being celebrated from home instead of the customary stadium and procession ceremonies.

15:35 - Turkey quarantines 288 people coming from United States

Turkey repatriated 288 Turkish nationals from the United States and placed them under a 14-day quarantine on Monday to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections in Turkey, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

"The 288 Turks, including 16 infants and 21 children, were taken to Trabzon province and later sent to a student dormitory for quarantine after health checks," Anadolu said.

15:18 - Turkish municipality holds drive-in cinema showing during COVID-19

Turkish authorities in the central province of Nevşehir held a drive-in cinema showing as the country's cinemas remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, state-run Anadolu agency reported.

The Nevşehir Mayor Rasim Arı said they had decided to organise the screening and other activities to boost the morale of people who could not leave their homes and whose social lives had been restricted due to the outbreak.

18:00 - Turkey’s over 65 enjoy six hours outdoors

Photos and videos flooded Turkish social media of people aged 65 and over enjoying their limited time outdoors on Sunday.

Turkey’s elderly were allowed to leave their home for the second time for six hours on Sunday and groups of seniors roamed the streets, parks and walkways throughout the country.

The demographic, most at risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms, has been on lockdown in Turkey since March.

17:40 - Thirty pct of Turkey’s students not equipped with technology for distance learning

Three out of 10 Turkish university students do not have possession of technology allowing for them to properly participate in the distance-learning programme being implemented by schools during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fındings are the result of a survey by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects conducted with 525 students from 57 universities, Birgün newspaper said.

One out of 10 students surveyed said they did not have a computer or smart device to help them with distance learning while four out of 10 students surveyed said they either had very bad or no internet at all.

Turkey’s students began distance learning due to COVID-19 in March.

15:25 - Almost 130 workers died due to COVID-19 since March, says work council

A total of 128 workers have died between March 11-May 10 after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to Turkey's Occupational Health and Safety Assembly (İSİG).

The average age of the workers who died due to COVID-19 was 50, with 119 being men and nine women, Diken news site quoted İSİG as saying in a written statement.

The largest number of workers’ deaths due to the virus took place in Istanbul, which suffered 78 casualties, followed by Kocaaeli with nine and Izmir with seven deaths.

Thirty-seven of those killed worked in the trade/office sector, followed by the health sector with 31 casualties.