Despite the fact that the majority of Turks stay at home following the government’s advice to stop the coronavirus, 120,000 people over 60, the most vulnerable to COVID-19, use public transport every day.
The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, has asked elderly people to stay at home after verifying that they continue to use the city’s public transport on a massive scale, despite the fact that the authorities recommend avoiding going outside, especially this group, the more vulnerable in case of coronavirus infection.
Despite noting that in the past two weeks the number of people over 60 using the city’s metro and urban bus network has fallen by 54%, İmamoğlu insisted that “it is not enough.” “Those people continue to use public transport extensively. I ask them to not. Please stay away from public transport,” the mayor reiterated.
According to data presented by İmamoğlu, some 264,000 city residents over the age of 60 – who have a discount on public transport, also being free for those over 65 – used the urban transport network on March 3rd, while by March 17th the figure had dropped to 121,000.
“Our analysis show that people at risk from the pandemic continue to use the city’s public transport system on a massive scale,” the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city with nearly 16 million inhabitants, wrote on his Twitter account.
9 dead, all over 60 years, from the coronavirus in Turkey
According to the latest data on the COVID-19 disease provided on Friday night by Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, the number of patients infected with the new virus in Turkey has increased to 670 after 311 of 3,656 cases suspects who were under quarantine have tested positive. The coronavirus has also killed 9 people, all of them over 60 years old and with health problems.
Although Turkey has not yet declared a formal quarantine for the entire population, as is the case in several European countries, the authorities have closed most of the premises and public spaces, including bars, cafes, cinemas, swimming pools or gyms; for now the restaurants are kept open, but under strict cleaning and separation measures between customers. Precautions have also been taken in nursing homes.
The government asks citizens to isolate themselves at home for 3 weeks
These containment measures have caused streets in cities like Istanbul to be almost empty, while the use of public transport has decreased by no less than 59% in recent days. Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan asked citizens in a speech to the nation to stay home and avoid going outside for at least 3 weeks, and although the measure is not mandatory, it is being done massively.
“People often ask if we are going to declare a state of emergency. There is no state of emergency to declare. Each person should declare their own state of emergency and implement the (announced) measures,” said in an interview this week with a Turkish newspaper the Turkish Minister of Health. “The number of infections (by the coronavirus) can be reduced to a minimum if we isolate ourselves for 2 or 3 weeks,” he added.
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As a history lover, Pablo was captivated by Turkey from the first day he visited it in 2006: he got married there, has a house there… and has since become an expert on Turkey’s current affairs. With a long experience in media, he has been at the helm of hispanatolia.com since 2011, and now also of anatoliatoday.com