ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The coronavirus outbreak in Turkey is starting to reach a plateau and the country aims to return to normal life after the end of Ramadan in late May, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.

Cases of the COVID-19 disease have risen to 90,980 in Turkey, exceeding any country outside Europe and the United States, with the death toll at 2,140. In turn Ankara has adopted increasingly tight measures to curb the spread.

“This pandemic has become the biggest crisis since the Second World War in terms of its economic consequences,” Erdogan was cited as saying at a video conference meeting of his AK Party’s officials.

“We aim to achieve maximum observance of measures during the month of Ramadan and, God willing, a transition to normal life for our country after the holiday (at the end of Ramadan),” he said.

As part of efforts to tighten those measures, Erdogan said on Monday a four-day lockdown would be imposed in 31 cities from Thursday after similar stay-at-home orders were enforced over the last two weekends.

Thursday is a national holiday in Turkey, while Friday marks the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Turkish authorities said grocery shops will remain open until 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) on Thursday and Friday for people to make essential purchases.

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Ece Toksabay and Jonathan Spicer)