ANKARA, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Turkey has ramped up measures against the COVID-19 pandemic as the number of infections has roughly doubled daily since the first case was reported on March 11.
Turkey had 947 confirmed cases of the highly infectious virus, including 21 deaths, as of Saturday night.
The Turkish government on Saturday imposed a partial curfew on the citizens of and older than 65 years old, and on those with chronic diseases.
The local administrations will meet their needs such as shopping for foods and medicines, the Turkish Interior Ministry said in a statement. Turkey's elderly population was 7.55 million in 2019, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.
The Turkish Health Ministry said all hospitals will have to accept and treat suspected coronavirus cases. It declared any hospital with at least two specialists in infectious diseases, pulmonology or internal diseases as a coronavirus pandemic hospital.
The ministry also announced a 15-minute rapid test kit being distributed across Turkey. Local media reported that the kits were bought from China.
Turkey has not imposed a general lockdown but has been issuing several circulars since last week for strict implementation of the measures taken by the government and health institutions.
Strict measures have been implemented to prevent infection of the virus, after nearly 21,000 umrah visitors returned to Turkey in the past few weeks, some of whom have diagnosed with COVID-19.
After closing schools, cafes and bars, barbershops, hair and beauty salons, the government has also banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues. All meetings and activities related to science, culture and art would be postponed until the end of April.
On Saturday, Turkish Interior Ministry ordered restaurants, pastry shops and similar workplaces to only serve deliveries and pickups.
Turkey also suspended flights with over 60 countries as of Saturday. More than 3,000 Turkish students will be evacuated from seven countries that have suspended international flights because of the coronavirus.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday said at least 3,358 students in Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates had applied to Turkey's diplomatic missions for evacuation.
The process started from Sunday and the students would be quarantined for 14 days in dormitories, he noted.
Last week, the Turkish authorities evacuated more than 5000 Turkish citizens from European counties.