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Turkey bans smoking in public in effort to stop coronavirus spread

Turkey bans smoking in public in effort to stop coronavirus spread
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Turkey on Wednesday announced a ban on smoking in public spaces to try to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

Interior Minister Fahrettin Koca said the measures were put in place to tackle a recent surge of symptomatic cases, Reuters reported.

Turkey only records symptomatic cases of COVID-19, a contentious practice for counting infections, as many health experts warn it does not reveal the accurate spread of the virus.

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The country reported a spike of nearly 2,693 cases on Wednesday, as the Interior minister announced the smoking ban. The ban is aimed at ensuring residents abide by mask rules, as some have been seen lowering their mask to use cigarettes.

"For this reason, in order to ensure that masks are worn at all times and properly, as of November 12, 2020, a smoking ban will be imposed in areas and regions such as streets and avenues where citizens are or can be crowded together, necessary public squares and public transportation stops," the ministry said.

Health experts have warned smoking can exacerbate symptoms of COVID-19, as both can do severe and irreparable damage to vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

What's more, Turkey also imposed a lockdown on senior citizens 65 and older in some cities such as the capital Ankara and Istanbul, as older adults are also more at risk of severe virus infections.

Senior citizens will not be allowed outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

More than 400,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Turkey since the onset of the pandemic, and 11,145 fatalities related to the virus have been reported.

The country will also impose a 10 p.m. curfew for most businesses, including restaurants, cafes, movie theaters and pools.