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Turkey records biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths

Death toll increases by 79 to 356 with authorities screening 18,757 people over last 24 hours and 2,456 testing positive
Officials wear facemasks and personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of measures to fight spread of Covid-19 as they put coffin inside funeral vehicle in Istanbul morgue on 31 March (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkey recorded its biggest daily rise in the number of deaths connected with the coronavirus on Thursday, with the death toll rising by 28 percent, from 277 to 356.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in his daily briefing that 79 people had died from the virus in the last 24 hours and 2,456 citizens had tested positive - bringing the total number of cases to 18,135.

Koca also announced on Twitter that accomplished pathologist and Professor Dr Feriha Oz had died from the disease.

"Covid-19 has taken a professor who has raised many medical doctors," he said. "Condolences to her family and medical society."

Koca's announcement also sounded some positive notes in Turkey's fight against the spread of the disease, with authorities boosting daily test numbers to 18,757 - an increase of 4,000.

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He also said 82 people had recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number to 415. 

Turkish officials had previously announced that 601 medical workers had tested positive.

Despite the pandemic taking a toll on the Turkish health system, only 60 percent of intensive care units are in use. Koca said on Wednesday that there was no shortage of ventilators or any resources.

As Turkey tries to contain the spread of the disease, rights groups said they were trying to mitigate unintended consequences of the country's coronavirus lockdown.

The We Will Stop Women’s Murder Platform reported on Wednesday that 21 Turkish women had been killed by men in the space of 20 days since 11 March, when the government advised the country to stay at home.

And with cases steadily rising, activists had also record a 20 percent increase in animal abandonment.

Last week, Turkey cancelled all international flights and imposed a travel ban on 30 cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.

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.

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