Turkey’s health minister on Wednesday urged the public to maintain social distancing rules during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. 

“Especially, those over 65 years and those with chronic diseases should exchange greetings over the phone. There should be no handshakes or hugs,” Fahrettin Koca said in a statement following a meeting of the country’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board.

In Turkey, the festival will be celebrated from July 31 to Aug. 3.

Koca warned against holding big gatherings or crowded meals on Eid.

He added that Eid prayers should be performed in open spaces in accordance with social distancing rules.

He also called for special attention to maintaining hygiene during the slaughter of sacrificial animals and distribution of meat.

On Wednesday, Turkey reported 902 new coronavirus cases, bringing the tally to 222,402.

“The daily reduction of new patients to below 1,000 is an advantage, as well as motivation, in combating the epidemic,” Koca said. 

“Every day, we have as many new patients as the number of patients recovering. We need to reduce the number of new patients,” he added. 

Since it originated in China last December, over 15 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries topping 8.5 million, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University. 

The global death toll currently stands at nearly 619,100.

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