ANKARA, Turkey — The governor of Istanbul on Wednesday announced flexible hours for public sector workers in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19 in Turkey's largest city.

The move will allow people to stagger their journeys to work and reduce crowding on public transport, Ali Yerlikaya told a news conference following a meeting of the provincial health council.

"We do not want to give new victims to the epidemic. We do not want to go back to the days of restrictions," he said. "The epidemic is not over yet. We should not let go of control."

Istanbul, home to 16 million of Turkey's 83 million population, accounts for 40% of the country's COVID-19 patients.

Yerlikaya said high-risk staff, such as those aged 60 and over, pregnant women, mothers with young children and those with chronic illnesses, would be put on administrative leave or work from home.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca also called on people not to make unnecessary journeys to or from Istanbul.

On Wednesday evening, the country reported 2,391 new cases where patients showed symptoms of infection. It also reported 77 daily deaths from COVID-19.

Turkey, which does not release data for asymptomatic cases, has recorded a total of 384,509 infected patients since March and 10,558 deaths.