Turkey's free coronavirus masks delivery scheme stalls after requests choke online system

Turkey's free coronavirus masks delivery scheme stalls after requests choke online system
A government scheme offering five free masks a week to Turkish citizens has stalled after its website was inundated with requests.
2 min read
06 April, 2020
Turkish authorities have made face masks mandatory in public places [Getty]

A scheme announced by Turkish authorities on Sunday offering free facial masks for citizens has been stalled after the programme's web portal was taken down due to high demand.

Citizens apply for masks via the country's national e-commerce site (aPttAVM.com) for a delivery of five items per week by the Turkish Post and Telegraph Organization (PTT).

The scheme was introduced after a law was passed making it mandatory for people to wear the protective gear in public.

Those aged over-65 and under-20 who are banned from going outside are not eligible for the scheme, according to a government statement.

"Dear Citizens, We thank you for your intense interest. In order to provide you with a better health service, we would like to inform you that we will receive your applications regarding free mask requests through the e-Government Gateway as soon as possible," a statement on the page read.

"We would like to inform you that we will share the necessary announcements when the system for free mask supply is available via the e-Government Gateway."

Turkey stepped up restrictions in crowded public spaces on Saturday, including markets and ferries in Istanbul.

It comes a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan imposed the use of face masks to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

The death toll in the country of 83 million people has now topped 500, according to official figures, while the number of cases has reached nearly 24,000 - most of them in the economic capital Istanbul.

But authorities have so far stopped short of a full lockdown.

Among the measures taken nationwide, Turkey has suspended international flights, issued a confinement order for everyone aged under-20 and over-65 and shut schools.

Erdogan also said on Friday that vehicles would no longer be able to leave or enter 31 towns and cities, including Istanbul, for 15 days.

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