March 21, 2020 / 1:02 PM / 2 months ago

Turkey suspends flights to 46 more countries, bans picnics

A worker in protective suit disinfects Sultanahmet square in response to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Istanbul,Turkey March 21, 2020. Byzantine-era monument of Hagia Sophia is seen in the background. REUTERS/Kemal Aslan

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey extended measures against the coronavirus on Saturday, suspended flights with 46 more countries and banning picnics and barbecues, as the number of cases has roughly doubled every day for a week.

The death toll in Turkey due to the coronavirus rose to nine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on Friday, after five elderly patients died of the highly contagious respiratory illness.

The number of confirmed cases in the country has surged since the first case was announced last week, reaching 670 on Friday.

Ankara had already banned flights with 22 countries, closed schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers and indefinitely postponed matches in its main sports leagues. The new ban applies to countries including Canada and the northern part of Cyprus.

On Saturday, it extended the ban to picnics and barbecues, as well as barbershops, hair and beauty salons.

Earlier on Saturday, Fenerbahce basketball players and staff members showing coronavirus symptoms have been sent to hospital for tests, the Turkish team said.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay, editing by Louise Heavens

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