Turkey rounds up hundreds for social media posts about coronavirus

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has arrested 410 people for making “provocative” posts on social media about the coronavirus outbreak, its interior minister said on Wednesday.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu praised Turks for complying with social distancing measures imposed so far to curtail the spread of the disease, and said this meant tighter controls such as a curfew may be unnecessary.

Turkey has shut schools, cafes and bars, banned mass prayers, postponed sports matches and suspended flights. The number of confirmed cases of the virus in Turkey rose by 343 to 1,872 on Tuesday. Forty-four people have died.

Soylu noted that since the restrictions were put in place, the number of passengers on inter-city buses had fallen 83% and traffic intensity within 15 major cities had fallen 65%.

“So far, our citizens are complying to the highest level with all the measures we have imposed. This is a particularly good point for us,” Soylu said in an interview with broadcaster TV 24. “As long as citizens observe their own emergency rules themselves, it may not be necessary for now to take tighter measures.”

The minister said almost 2,000 social media accounts had been identified making provocative posts about the outbreak, resulting in the detention of 410 people “attempting to stir unrest”.

He said that most of the accounts were linked to militant groups, without giving further details of the identities of the suspects.

Some of the arrests were over posts that showed youths mocking elderly people for venturing outside during the lockdown, he said. Such posts have been a source of public anger in Turkey.

Turkey’s leadership has been accused in the past by rights groups and political opponents of cracking down on social media to limit criticism. The government says its strict monitoring of social media is necessary to guarantee public safety.

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Regina Pats honour tickets purchased to final home game, cancelled due to coronavirus

Each ticket bought to the Regina Pats’ final regular-season home game scheduled for Friday night will be honoured during the 2021-21 campaign.

The pats were set to play the Moose Jaw Warriors when the novel coronavirus pandemic cut the season short.

“The Regina Pats would like to thank the Pats regiment for their support this season and hope everyone can be patient with us as we work through the cancellation of our last home game,” said Stacey Cattell, Regina Pats COO.

“We are working hard to make sure everyone who purchased a ticket will get a chance to come to the Brandt Centre next year.”

Season tickets holders will receive an additional voucher added to their My Pats accounts next season.

Any unused Flex vouchers redeemed for Friday’s game will automatically be exchanged for the 2020-21 season, available in the My Pats account.

Safeway vouchers can be exchanged at the Regina Pats business office once tickets for next season become available.

Pats staff will contact group ticket purchasers, birthday package buyers, suite holders and premium seat holders to help deal with the situation.

The Pats have also extended their early bird deadline for season ticket renewal to April 30.

Fans can watch the Pats announce their individual award winners for the 2019-20 season through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on Friday at 7 p.m.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is low for Canadians but warn this could change quickly. They caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Coronavirus: Deaths in Spain rise to 767 as lockdown continues

The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in Spain has risen to 767, an increase of 169 in the last 24 hours.

The total number of COVID-19 cases also grew overnight, rising by just over a quarter to 17,147.

Spain is the second worst affected country in Europe, as only Italy has had more cases and deaths. Across the rest of the world, only China and Iran have had larger outbreaks.

The entire country is currently under lockdown as the government tries to stop the spread of the disease any further.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has called the virus a “cruel” disease that paralyses the human need to socialise.

On Wednesday, both Italy and France had their highest numbers of deaths from coronavirus in a single day, with 475 and 89 more fatalities respectively.

Italy has been on total lockdown since 9 March and has now recorded a total of 2,978 deaths. It is on track to surpass China’s death toll, which currently stands at 3,249.

Health experts in Italy are warning the peak of the disease may not come until mid-April in the worst hit regions in the north.

In France, the government said on Thursday that it will extend the current two-week lockdown if the threat from the virus continues.

The announcement came as French President Emmanuel Macron came under pressure from doctors and nurses over the lack of face masks and hand sanitiser in hospitals.

A national police union has also told officers to refuse to carry out tasks that would bring them into close proximity with members of the public because of the shortage of masks.

The outbreak in Germany has been less severe, with just over 30 coronavirus-related deaths.

The country is not under lockdown but schools, businesses and public areas have been shut to stop the disease spreading.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the outbreak was the biggest challenge faced by the country since the Second World War.

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Factbox: What Africa is doing to fight coronavirus

(Reuters) – The World Health Organization has warned of the risk that COVID-19 could overwhelm strained public health systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Here is a selection of measures countries are taking to prepare for the virus and limit its spread.


With more cases than any other country in sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is barring entry to foreign travellers coming from or transiting through high-risk countries including Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom and China, according to an advisory issue by the foreign ministry on Tuesday.

Travellers who arrived from these countries since mid-February must report for testing. Those arriving from medium-risk countries – Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will undergo high intensity screening.

South Africans are advised to cancel or postpone all non-essential foreign travel. The government has also ordered schools to close early for the Easter break and will prohibit gatherings of more than 100 people.


Africa’s most populous nation is from Friday banning entry to arrivals from 13 of the countries worst affected by the coronavirus, including the United States, Britain, Germany and China.

It has also stepped up surveillance and is preparing for the possibility of an influx of patients.

Lagos, the biggest city with some 20 million people, could handle 2,000 cases, said Bamidele Mutiu, who heads a regional biosafety team. To do this, they would need to use two camps previously housing people displaced by violence, he said.

Authorities are checking the temperature of anyone who arrives at Nigeria’s airports, ports and land borders.

Those coming from high-risk countries such as China, Iran, Italy and Spain are asked to self-isolate for 14 days, said Tarik Mohammed, a technical advisor at the Niger Centre for Disease Control. If they develop symptoms, a laboratory team will visit them and collect a sample for testing.


The East African country is suspending travel from any nation with reported COVID-19 cases.

Only Kenyan citizens, foreigners with residence permits and United Nations workers will be allowed to come in, provided they proceed on self-quarantine, the government said this week.

Schools and universities are closing, and public minibuses are providing hand sanitizer.


Ethiopian Airlines said on its website that medics stationed at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, a key regional transit hub, carry out continuous health screenings 24/7.

The government in the Horn of Africa country has closed schools nationwide and offered to transport people on government buses to ease congestion on public transport.


The East African country is flooding its capital, Kigali, with portable sinks for hand-washing at bus stops, restaurants, banks and shops. Schools, universities, churches and courts are closed nationwide. Some flights are suspended.


From Wednesday, Cameroon, in central Africa, will close land, air and sea borders indefinitely, the government said in statement on Tuesday. International flights will be grounded, with the exception of cargo planes. Schools and restaurants will shut, and gatherings of more than 50 people are banned.


The West African country is applying lessons learned fighting a devastating Ebola outbreak in 2014-15.

“We were one of the first countries to start enhanced screening at the airport on Jan. 25,” said Mosoka P. Fallah, acting director general of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia.

More than 200 people have been trained as field epidemiologists and check for diseases in all 90 districts, said Tolbert Nyenswah, senior research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the United States and former incident manager for Liberia’s Ebola response.

“If there is a case of a suspected disease, a sample is sent to a lab and tested.”

There are hand-washing stations at public places including stores, shops, schools, hospitals, restaurant and government offices.


Has been taking all passengers’ temperatures since Jan. 28 and asks for contact details, so officials can reach them if someone else on the plane tests positive, a spokesman for Dakar airport said.


Has implemented some of the most stringent measures in West Africa with a mandatory 14 days of quarantine for all people arriving from abroad. Travelers from countries with over 200 cases of coronavirus are barred from entering the country unless they are Ghanaian citizens or residents.


After confirming its first case on March 13, the West African country closed the international airport, suspended teaching in schools and universities, and banned weekly markets.


One of the world’s poorest countries, the island nation has suspended all flights for 30 days, a blow to its tourism industry.

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