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Turkey Reports Second Coronavirus Death, Announces $15BN Aid Package for Economy

Turkey on Wednesday reported its second coronavirus fatality, the Turkish health minister said, as the number of confirmed cases rose to 191.

“A 61-year-old male patient has died,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter, but giving no further details.

The confirmation of a second death comes after Koca said on Tuesday that an 89-year-old man was the first fatality in Turkey.

“The tests concluded today show the importance of following the measures which have been taken so far,” he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced earlier in the day a $15 billion package to help the Turkish economy cope with the crisis over the new coronavirus, and urged Turks to leave their homes as little as possible.

“With a package we call ‘Economic Stability Shield’, we are deploying 100 billion Turkish lira ($15 billion) in order to reduce the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Erdogan said after chairing a meeting in Ankara to discuss ways to tackle the crisis.

He announced a series of measures including tax cuts for businesses and help for low-income households, including those on minimum wage and the retired.

“The lowest pension will be increased to 1,500 Turkish lira (around $230),” Erdogan said.

Another measure was to cut the value-added tax on domestic flights to one percent from 18 percent for a three-month period, the president said.

Erdogan also said his government would support the country’s flag-carrier Turkish Airlines, which he said one of the leading companies severely affected by the crisis after cancelled flights over the virus.

He added now was “the time to keep our contact with the outside world at a minimum.

“If we apply the measures already outlined, we can keep the time of staying at home limited to three weeks,” Erdogan said.

The state would also hand out face masks and cologne to people above the age of 65, the president said.

Earlier the private DHA news agency said the Turkish interior ministry ordered land and rail borders to be closed with Greece and Bulgaria over the novel coronavirus.

Erdogan last month ordered the frontier to be opened to allow migrants to go to Europe, but the move caused tensions in Turkey’s relations with the European Union and Greece.

Turkey had already announced a series of measures in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, including travel restrictions on 20 countries and the closure of schools, universities and public spaces such as cinemas.


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