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Coronavirus: Turkey announces more than dozen deaths, 500 new cases

Ankara's daily test numbers reach more than 5,000 as government tries to curb spread of virus
Turkish authorities have ordered those aged 65 and above and those with chronic illnesses to stay at home (Reuters)

Turkey announced 15 more people have died amid the coronavirus epidemic, and also reported 561 new cases of the disease as the country tries to curb its spread.

The country's death toll is now 59, with a total of 2,433 cases, according to the Turkish Health Ministry.

The ministry also announced it had conducted 5,035 tests in the past 24 hours, which is the first time the daily number of tests exceeded 5,000.

So far, about 33,000 people in Turkey have been tested for coronavirus, officially known as Covid-19.

The country received 50,000 rapid test kits - which can provide results within 15 minutes - from China, and has also been using a special drug from Beijing that helps treat victims of the disease.

While Health Minister Fahrettin Koca did not give further information on the drug, the anti-malarial drug chloroquine has recently been used to treat coronavirus patients in China and France.

Koca also said face masks produced in Turkey "will not be exported" because of domstic demand.

Ankara said it will receive 300,000 more rapid test kits from China on Thursday, and will be getting about one million from the country in total.

In the goverment's latest measures aimed at curbing the spread of virus, Turkey's Interior Ministry announced that grocery store and supermarket hours will be limited to between 9am and 9pm, with a maximum of one customer for every 10 square metres of shop space.

In a statement, the ministry said that buses within towns and between cities will not be allowed to exceed 50 percent of vehicle capacity, mandating that sufficient space be kept between passengers.

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