As COVID-19 cases soar in Turkey, demands for fresh lockdown gain momentum

Turkey has been hit by a second wave of COVID-19 and recorded more new cases on Sunday than Brazil and Russia, standing just behind the US and India

November 30, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Turkey COVID update
(Photo: Anadolu Agency)

Turkey recorded the third largest number of fresh COVID-19 cases in the world on November 29, Sunday, after being hit by a second wave of infections. 29,281 new cases and 185 deaths were reported on Sunday.

The US (138,096 new cases and 824 deaths) and India (39,036 new cases and 444 deaths) were the only countries to record a greater number of fresh infections than Turkey on Sunday. Turkey reported more cases than Brazil and Russia, two countries that are severely hit by the crisis. The situation is critical for Turkey particularly as it has a much smaller population than both India (over 1,300 million) and the US (over 300 million). Turkey’s total population is 82 million.

The country now has a total of 607,628 infections and has recorded 13,558 deaths. It has added more than 200,000 new cases since November 10, with the number of daily new cases hovering above 25,000 since November 25. Fewer than 8,000 new cases had been reported on November 24.

During the first wave, Turkey recorded the highest single day death toll of 127 on April 19. However, since November 20, more than 130 deaths have been reported every day. In the last one week, the number of daily deaths has stood above 150. According to Anadolu Agency, the total number of critical cases in the country is more than 5,000.

The alarming increase in fresh cases is expected to create pressure for fresh lockdown measures, which the government thinks can negatively impact the economic recovery of the country. Turkey recorded a mild recovery in the last quarter following a slump in previous quarters due to curbs on movement imposed earlier this year.

Some of the opposition leaders have asked the government to impose strict lockdown measures to curb the rise in cases. Meral AKsener, leader of the iYi or Good Party, has called for a lockdown of at least 14 days.

The Communist Party of Turkey criticized the limited lockdown measures undertaken by the government as pro-market measures, and asked for stronger steps such as a complete lockdown for 15 days and curfews for at least a month. It also demanded nationalization of the health sector.

The government announced some fresh restrictions last week, imposing weekend night curfews, and restrictions on restaurants and cafes and the movement of the non-working age population. A switch has been made to online learning for schools and other educational institutions. On Saturday, all preparatory schools in capital Istanbul were announced shut till January 4 next year.