Few passengers are seen in a subway train in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Yasin Akgul)

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city, fights against COVID-19 behind closed doors as few people are seen in public places under strengthened measures against the pandemic.

ISTANBUL, March 28 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's largest city Istanbul has fallen into silence on Saturday after the Turkish president announced new strengthened measures against COVID-19 the previous day.

Picnic spots and coastal shores on the Marmara Sea and Bosphorus Strait were empty in line with the measures.

Before the outbreak of the virus, the traffic density in the city on weekends could go up to 70 percent. But on Saturday, the density was around 15 percent.

Press reports said that traffic accidents in Istanbul with a population of over 16 million have lately declined by nearly 35 percent as people have been mostly staying at home over fast-growing cases of COVID-19.

Passengers wearing face masks are seen in a subway train in Istanbul, Turkey, on March 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Yasin Akgul)

Meanwhile, people were also seen obeying the social distance rule in public transportation.

In Istanbul's main inter-city bus station in the Esenler district on the European side of the city, officials posted notes on the seats, saying that "for your safety, leave an empty seat between each other."

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya said in a tweet that the departures from Istanbul by buses to other regions were banned as of 5:00 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Saturday.

Those with a doctor's prescription and those whose first degree relatives are sick or pass away would be excluded from the ban.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a "voluntary quarantine," urging people to stay at home except their basic needs to help contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

He also announced that inter-city travel across the country would be subject to the permission of governors in each province, and all international flights would be suspended.

Additionally, pandemic councils would be established in 30 out of Turkey's total 81 provinces and could take additional precautions if necessary, Erdogan added.

A flexible working system, social distancing, the closure of picnic spots, and a 14-day quarantine for newly recruited soldiers during admission and dismissal were among the new measures.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Turkey has climbed to 108 and the number of confirmed cases has risen to 7,402 on Saturday, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.  ■

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