ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Intercity train service resumed on a limited basis Thursday in Turkey as the government eases restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus.
Service restarted following a two-month suspension with a high-speed train departing the capital, Ankara, for Istanbul at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT). Trains will make 16 trips daily, connecting the cities of Ankara, Istanbul, Konya and Eskisehir.
The trains are operating at half-capacity, and passengers are being permitted on board only with a government-issued code certifying they are not being monitored for a suspected COVID-19 infection.
Speaking at a ceremony at Ankara’s train station, Turkish Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoglu, said travelers showing signs of illness would not be allowed on board. Any passenger exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms on a train will be taken to a special “isolation section” and handed over to health officials at the nearest station, he said.
No food or drinks will be served during the journey, the minister added.
Turkey reported a total of nearly 160,000 confirmed virus cases as of Thursday, including 4,431 deaths. Nearly 123,000 people have recovered, according to Health Ministry figures.
The government has eased some restrictions, including opening shopping malls and hairdressers. Mosques will allow congregations for two daytime prayers starting Friday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to announce new measures later Thursday.
Turkey ranks ninth in a tally by Johns Hopkins University for the number of cases but experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported.