The Turkish state helped millions of families through social assistance programs and offered financial support worth billions of dollars during the COVID-19 outbreak, a top government official said on Wednesday.

The government launched the Social Protection Shield program to cater to citizens’ needs during the pandemic, Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, Turkey’s family, labor and social services minister, told Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk.

She said the program includes services such as short-time work allowance, unemployment benefits, cash support, and social assistance.

According to the minister, the government has so far extended assistance worth 20.5 billion Turkish liras (almost $3 billion) and more than six million households have been reached through the program.

Selcuk said millions of families have received financial support amounting to six billion liras (over $875 million) and social assistance efforts are being carried out through various organizations.

She further said that the regulation barring layoffs during the pandemic would be extended for another three months.

Turkey has recorded over 181,000 COVID-19 cases to date, with more than 153,000 patients having fully recovered.

The death toll stands at 4,842, while 732 patients remain under treatment in intensive care units.

* Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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