Azerbaycan24 – The streets are crowded, the shopping centres busy and the traffic heavy.
Some flock to the main bus terminal to get out of Istanbul, while others are trying to stockpile alcohol amid news of a “booze ban”.
This is the mood as Turkey prepares later on Thursday to enter its first full lockdown of the pandemic, to curb a surge in infections and deaths.
WhatsApp groups are now dominated by messages about how life will be in the coming days.
This time last year, Turkey was seen as a success story for its early combative action and was even praised by the WHO.
One year on, it is among the countries worst affected by Covid, with the highest infection rate in Europe.
How Turkey’s infection rate soared
Ankara is still proud of its relatively low total number of deaths, at around 39,000, and authorities say the pandemic is still under control, thanks to the country’s strong healthcare system. But the spike in the number of cases is worrying.
Following a second period of restrictions starting last November, the number of daily cases fell to around 6,000 at one point in mid-February.
But as soon as the government started to ease the restrictions in March, a new wave struck Turkey.
The government then U-turned to re-impose restrictions at the beginning of April. However, that was not enough to curb the spread of infections.
At its height in April, there were more than 60,000 new cases a day and more than 300 deaths.