Turkey’s decision to announce a two day curfew to prevent the spread of COVID-19 brought tens of thousands to the streets of Istanbul as desperate residents descended on shops.

The lockdown, announced by Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun late on Friday night, is an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country of 82 million people.

In Istanbul, residents shared images of crowds outside grocery stores ahead of the curfew, which was to begin last night at midnight across 31 Turkish cities.

The government has been criticised for announcing the last minute curfew with just hours to spare and ahead of a weekend.

Clarifying the rules of the lockdown later on Twitter, Altun said that bakeries and pharmacies would remain open, as well as other “enterprises that will meet the urgent or basic needs of citizens”.

Turkey has 47,029 recorded cases of coronavirus and has seen just over 1,000 deaths.

Although Turkey has stopped international and domestic travel and closed schools and restaurants, the country has so far resisted shutting down offices and workplaces.