More students in Turkey will be taking in-person classes soon amid new measures to combat the novel coronavirus, the country’s president said Monday.

“We are starting face-to-face education in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8th and 12th grades” in line with determined rules to ensure the students’ safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.

Separately, National Education Minister Ziya Selcuk said on Twitter that in-person education in primary schools, rural schools, 8th and 12th grades and special schools will begin on Oct. 12.

Preschool and first-grade students had started in-person education on Sept. 21 while other students continued remote education.

Starting next week, Turkey will give free tablet computers to half a million students, Erdogan added.

Amid the pandemic, “nearly 847,000 people were supported with around 4 billion Turkish liras [$515.2 million] as unemployment compensation,” he said.

The amount of grants paid to employees and low-income groups reached 38 billion Turkish liras (around $4.8 billion), the president stressed.

The country on Monday reported 1,603 more patients with the novel coronavirus and 1,320 recoveries over the past 24 hours, the Turkish Health Ministry said.

The overall patient count now stands at 326,046 with recoveries totalling 286,370, according to ministry data.

The death toll from COVID-19 reached 8,498 with 57 more fatalities.

‘Every honorable state should support Azerbaijan’

Reiterating Turkey’s support to Azerbaijan against recent aggression by neighboring Armenia, Erdogan said: “It is the duty of every honorable state to support Azerbaijan’s fight to liberate its occupied territories.” 

The Minsk Group, which was formed by the US, France and Russia within the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), doomed the issue of Upper Karabakh to a deadlock rather than settling it, he stressed. 

Humanity cannot find permanent peace and tranquillity without rescuing the world from rogue states and their rogue rulers, he said. 

He added that rogue states such as Israel, Southern Greek Cyprus and Syria under the Bashar al-Assad regime persecute their own citizens and destabilize the world.

Upper Karabakh conflict

Fighting in the Upper Karabakh region began on Sept. 27 when Armenian forces targeted civilian Azerbaijani settlements and military positions, leading to casualties.

Relations between the two former Soviet republics have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Upper Karabakh, or Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized territory of Azerbaijan.

Multiple UN resolutions as well as many international organizations demand the withdrawal of the invading forces.

The OSCE Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the US – was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail. A cease-fire, however, was agreed upon in 1994.

Many world powers including Russia, France and the US have urged an immediate cease-fire. Turkey, meanwhile, has supported Baku's right to self-defense.