Turkey has announced the strictest lockout declared since the height of the pandemic, in response to an increase in COVID-19 incidents.

During the total lockdown, which started on Thursday at 7 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) and will continue until May 17, intercity traffic is prohibited except in emergency situations, and all commercial enterprises are suspended, with a few exceptions.

Security forces have been patrolling the vacant streets and squares of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest district, building over 300 checkpoints, while additional security forces have been stationed at the city’s entrances and exits.

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According to Governor Ali Yerlikaya, more than 400 gendarmerie forces and nearly 3,000 police officers are on constant duty around Istanbul’s largest district.

Throughout the 18-day lockdown, Istanbul Metro Lines will operate every 15 minutes between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Turkey announced 37,674 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 2,715 symptomatic patients, bringing the overall number of positive cases in the world to 4,788,700, according to the country’s health ministry.

The virus’s death toll in Turkey increased by 339 to 39,737, while overall recoveries increased to 4,255,714 after 43,253 more cases were recovered in the last 24 hours.

According to the ministry, the prevalence of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients is 2.4 percent, and the number of chronically ill patients in the country is 3,581.

On the past day, 278,108 tests were carried out, bringing Turkey’s cumulative number of tests to 46,996,712.

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Turkey began mass vaccination for COVID-19 in January of this year, after the authorities allowed the use of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine as an emergency measure. So far, more than 13,647,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

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