Authorities announced on Wednesday, June 17, that individuals are required to wear face masks in public in three more locations including Ankara, Istanbul, and Bursa, in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
It is now mandatory to wear face masks in 45 of the country's 81 provinces. According to media sources, the wearing of masks is obligatory in all public spaces in the provinces, specifically in markets and supermarkets, hairdressers, and barbershops. It is also compulsory on all public transport, including Metro services, buses, taxis, and ferries. In some areas, masks must be worn when traveling in private vehicles with more than one person.
Turkey has begun easing some of its COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks. The government began lifting restrictions on intercity travel and other COVID-19 measures on June 1, allowing restaurants, cafes, parks, sports facilities, and other public spaces to reopen. Movement restrictions will remain in place for those over 65 and under 18, although exercise times for children and teenagers were extended to 14:00 - 20:00 (local time) on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Domestic commercial flights from Istanbul to major provinces including Ankara, Izmir, Antalya, and Trabzon resumed on June 1. On June 10, flights to 15 international destinations were resumed, with a further 25 countries to be added by the end of the month. Flights were initially be resumed to destinations in Northern Cyprus, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Qatar and Greece on June 10, with 17 more routes, including those to Germany, Austria, Croatia, and Singapore, being added on June 15. Flights to a further 16 countries are due to be added on June 20, 22, and 25. The move follows the signing of reciprocal flight agreements with Northern Cyprus, Austria, Lithuania, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Albania, Belarus, the United Arab Emirates, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, and Italy.
As of Thursday, June 18, there have been 182,727 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Turkey with 4861 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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