Turkey’s COVID-19 death toll 340 as lockdown sets in

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Turkey logged 340 coronavirus-related deaths and 25,980 new cases in the last 24 hours, Health Ministry data showed on Sunday, the third day of a nationwide lockdown, including curfews, closed schools and many shuttered businesses.

Turkey ranks fourth globally in daily cases based on a seven-day average, according to a Reuters tally, down from second briefly last month.

After easing measures in early March, President Tayyip Erdogan’s government reversed course as infections surged to record highs. Turkey had a record 394 virus-related deaths on Friday, though new cases have dropped since April 21.

Erdogan and other government officials faced criticism in February and March for a holding party congress with thousands crowded indoors and also for attending a funeral, after which Health Minister Fahrettin Koca apologised.

According to state broadcaster TRT, Erdogan attended another funeral on Sunday for a mayor’s father who died after a coronavirus infection. Video footage showed him surrounded by dozens of people with masks outside an Istanbul mosque, prompting criticism on social media.

Under rules of the 17-day lockdown, funerals are to be held with fewer than 10 people who keep social distance.

Photo: A woman wearing face shield and mask walks next to the Turkish flag at Istiklal Street, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in Istanbul, Turkey. EPA-EFE/SEDAT SUNA