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Turkey halts intercity trains as virus cases surge

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Turkey halted all intercity trains and limited domestic flights on Saturday as coronavirus cases jumped by a third in a day to 5,698, with 92 dead.

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President Tayyip Erdogan called for a “voluntary quarantine” in which Turks stay at home except for shopping or basic needs. He ordered all international flights stopped.

Intercity travel by citizens would be subject to a governor’s approval.

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Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi said domestic flights would only operate from Ankara and Istanbul to certain big cities as of midnight Saturday.

He said passengers would need to receive permission from the governor’s office after 1400 GMT.

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Turkey’s state railways authority also said all intercity trains had been halted as of Saturday until further notice.

In a notice detailing the travel restrictions, the Interior Ministry said all citizens must remain in the cities they reside.

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They would need a doctor’s note to travel, in the event of the death of a close family member or if they have no accommodation.

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It said citizens would need to apply to the Travel Permission Council, tied to the local governor’s office, to travel.

All bus terminals will be equipped with medical personnel to carry out regular checks on workers and passengers, it added.

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Separately, the Health Ministry announced on Friday that all resignations were suspended for three months.

All health personnel in the public or private sector were barred from resigning in that period to meet the needs of hospitals, clinics and other health centres.

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The rate of infections in Turkey has outstripped many other countries in the last two weeks.

In the last 24 hours, 2,069 more cases were recorded, the country’s health minister said.

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