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For Erdogan’s government, it’s the economy first in COVID-19 crisis

Wary of paralyzing its entire economy, Turkey’s government has balked at drastic measures against the coronavirus outbreak in Istanbul, the country’s economic powerhouse and now the epicenter of the pandemic.
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Nearly a month after Turkey confirmed its first COVID-19 case, the government’s policy against the pandemic has crystallized enough to bring into relief its main priority — to salvage the economy and, by extension, its own political future.

A string of developments last week offered a perfect illustration of how the government approaches the pandemic, which has caused 725 deaths and more than 34,000 confirmed infections since Turkey reported its first case March 11. On the evening of April 3, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a couple of new measures to contain the contagion. First, private vehicles were banned from exiting and entering 31 provinces, many of which have big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Adana. Second, an existing curfew drastically limiting the movements of those over the age of 65 was extended to young people under 20. Both restrictions were to take effect at midnight.

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