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Iran Press TV

Turkey restricts youths, shuts borders to fight coronavirus

Iran Press TV

Saturday, 04 April 2020 8:53 AM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the country has imposed a partial curfew on citizens under the age of 20 as part of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the new coronavius.

Erdogan made the announcement in a news conference on Friday, saying that Ankara has also decided to close the borders of 31 cities, including Istanbul, for all vehicles, excluding transit passage and essential supplies.

"We have decided to bring partial curfew into effect for people under the age of 20 as of midnight Friday," Erdogan said.

"The shutdown of city borders will be in effect for 15 days initially, however this period can be extended if necessary."

Furthermore, mask usage will be obligatory in crowded public places, in public transport, grocery stores and workplaces, the president added.

Turkey has taken a raft of measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, from shutting schools and universities to banning mass prayers.

The government has also postponed matches in its main sports leagues indefinitely, as well suspending flights to many countries. But people are still going to work, as Erdogan seeks to sustain economic production and exports.

Turkish authorities have already ordered everyone aged 65 and over as well as those with chronic illnesses to stay at home, while most public spaces have been temporarily closed.

Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the country's death toll from the outbreak rose to 425 on Friday, while the number of confirmed cases from the disease rose to over 20,000.

The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, initially emerged in China late last year and is now spreading across the globe. Worldwide, there are more than 1,118,000 confirmed cases of the virus and over 59,000 deaths.

As the rate of transmission of the new coronavirus shows no signs of slowing, many countries have adopted severe measures to contain the outbreak, including imposing lockdowns and closing businesses and borders, as well as limiting public gatherings.

Separately on Friday, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) said more than two million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs due to measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak

"They (the government) had to start a campaign to keep people home. This current campaign has only led to one thing: unemployment," he said.

Kilicdaroglu also noted that around 400,000 businesses had closed and many workers paid wages on a daily basis had also been laid off since the current coronavirus curbs began.

"The number of those who worked there and are now unemployed exceeds 2 million. They will get unemployment wages from the unemployment fund for a short time, but there are no guarantees after that," he said.

Ankara has also rolled out a 100-billion lira ($15 billion) economic support package and launched a donation campaign to gather funds for the needy, which it said had so far raised 847 million lira.

"We urged the government to take precautions for dayworkers. No measures were taken," Kilicdaroglu said, adding that the government had to "make sacrifices" rather starting donation campaigns.

No coronavirus aid for Gaza unless captured soldiers recovered: Israel

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel said it would not allow any coronavirus assistance into the Gaza Strip unless the two Israeli soldiers who were captured during the 2014 Israeli war on the Palestinian enclave are recovered.

"The moment there is talk of the humanitarian world in Gaza – Israel also has humanitarian needs, which are mainly the recovery of the fallen," Defense Minister Naftali Bennett claimed, referring to the Israeli soldiers, who were captured by the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas during the Israeli 2014 aggression.

"And I think that we need to enter a broad dialogue about Gaza's and our humanitarian needs. It would not be right to disconnect these things … and certainly, our hearts would be open to many things."

This comes as Hamas has held the Israeli regime "fully responsible" for the consequences of any coronavirus outbreak in the besieged Gaza Strip.

"Israel bears responsibility for any consequences should the disease spread in Gaza because it has been blockading it for 13 years," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

The Hamas spokesman also said that Tel Aviv is committing a compounding crime through continuing besieging the enclave during the current pandemic, stressing that Hamas and all other resistance and national groups will maintain their struggle to break the unjust blockade.

Official figures by Palestine's health ministry shows that as of Thursday, 160 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and one individual has died so far. Around a dozen of the infected people are in the Gaza Strip, home to nearly two million people, and the rest are in the occupied West Bank.

The majority of population of Gaza lives in tightly packed refugee camps, where social distancing is hardly feasible and the new coronavirus can rampage there if necessary safety measures are not taken.

The United Nations has already warned against the frightening consequences of the coronavirus in the Gaza Strip in the wake of 13 years of Israeli-imposed blockade on the territory.

Gaza has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, which has caused a decline in living standards.

Israel has also launched three major wars against the enclave since 2008, killing thousands of Gazans and shattering the impoverished territory's already poor infrastructure.

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