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Coronavirus: Turkey death toll increases to 108, with 7,402 total cases

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says country has 1,704 new cases, as more than 55,000 tests have been carried out
Woman walks across iconic Taksim Square in central Istanbul, deserted this week amid novel coronavirus outbreak (AFP)

Turkey's death toll from the coronavirus increased by 16 to 108 on Saturday, as the number of confirmed cases rose by 1,704 to 7,402, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

He added on Twitter that 7,641 tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests carried out in Turkey to 55,464 since the outbreak begun, Reuters reported.

Turkish officials have to date not provided details on where the cases have been recorded in the country. Still, they say 70 people have recovered while 445 individuals remain in intensive care, according to AFP.

Middle East Eye reported on Friday that Turkey had cancelled all international flights and imposed a travel ban on 30 cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir, in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

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"We have entered a new period where we need to make more sacrifices," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a special address to the nation on Friday. "We won't fall into inaction nor panic."

Travel between the 30 cities will be possible only with formal permission from local governors, Erdogan said.

The president also said that the private sector has been ordered to minimise its staff in workplaces and transition into flexible working shifts.

The Turkish government has also closed down parks, forests and shores on weekends and won’t allow gatherings on weekdays in these areas.

"In all provinces, a pandemic board will be established, with governors as their chairs, to monitor precautions and take additional precautions, limited to the relevant province, if necessary," he said. "We can get out of this problem faster if we properly apply these measures."

Since the virus reached Turkey, the government has unleashed an array of measures aimed at curbing its spread, including closing down schools, universities, cafes, congressional prayers, indefinitely postponing sporting events and suspending flights to many countries.

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