Erdogan says Turkey must 'keep wheels turning' through coronavirus outbreak

  • World
  • Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends a videoconference with G20 leaders to discuss the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Huber Mansion in Istanbul, Turkey, March 26, 2020. Presidential Press Office/Handout via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey must carry on producing and "keep wheels turning" through the coronavirus pandemic to support exports and sustain the supply of basic goods, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday, as the number of confirmed cases topped 10,000.

Ankara has taken strict measures to limit social contact to prevent the spread of the virus since the first case was confirmed nearly three weeks ago. But the government has so far fallen short of enforcing a nationwide stay-at-home order.

The number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 10,827 on Monday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, while 168 people have died from the disease.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Erdogan said Turkey must keep producing and repeated a call for citizens to impose their own quarantine.

"Our most important sensitivity here is to continue production to sustain the supply of basic goods and support exports," he said.

"Turkey is a country that needs to continue production and keep the wheels turning under all conditions and circumstances."

Erdogan also launched a campaign to collect donations from citizens for those in need, saying he was donating seven months of his salary to the cause and that the effort had already drawn $11 million (£8.88 million).

Turkey has placed 41 residential areas under quarantine in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the president said.

Ankara has halted all international flights, limited domestic travel, closed schools, bars and cafes, suspended mass prayers and sport matches to counter the outbreak. The main opposition has called for a stay-at-home order.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen, Ezgi Erkoyun and Ece Toksabay; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Jonathan Oatis)

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