Turkey’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 76 to total 725 and new confirmed cases rose by 3,892 to bring the country’s total to 34,109, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on April 7.
Lemon exports will require government approval until August 31, 2020, Turkey’s Official Gazette said April 7. The citrus fruit has become highly in-demand during the COVID-19 outbreak as consumers have hoarded the traditional Turkish alcohol-based lemon-scented cologne.
Turkey's Treasury on April 6 borrowed 12.6 billion Turkish liras (approximately $1.86 billion) from domestic markets, by selling 14-month government bonds and eight-year CPI indexed government bonds at two separate auctions.
Turkish Trade Ministry has made a number of changes in the customs processes, making bringing gold from abroad easier. The move aimed to prevent the loss of time and money that stemmed from the gold being analyzed in a laboratory.
Turkey said on April 5 it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighbouring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Troops deployed in Syria will now enter and exit operation areas only with the permission of the head of the army, the defense ministry said. "Thus, the movement of staff and troops is minimized, unless it is mandatory," it added.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has called for a humanitarian truce and committed to suspending most military operations in northeast Syria amid the coronavirus outbreak. “We hope that this humanitarian truce will help to open the door for dialogue and political solution and to put an end to the war in the world and Syria,” the group said.
Turkey sent arms to Libya to support one of the warring factions, violating a United Nations arms embargo on the war-ravaged country, the BBC claimed, as it cited video footage and images taken inside the Turkish ship called Bana. According to Duvar English contributor Yörük Işık, the embargo is not as strict as the one imposed on North Korea, paving the way for both sides of the conflict to send weapons to the North African country.
Turkey's parliament discussed a prisoner release bill on April 7 which is set to free around 90,000 prisoners in total amid coronavirus outbreak. During the discussion, all deputies wore masks as a precautionary measure against the virus.
Turkish Medical Association head Prof. Sinan Adıyaman has said that they expect the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to last for a total of 11 weeks from its beginning until it wanes, adding that there is lack of information on the issue. This is the first time humanity encounters a coronavirus pandemic, so they can't exactly predict how the process will go," Adıyaman said.
Two health workers in Izmir conducted COVID-19 tests to citizens on the street in a district they were sent to for work, reportedly without the orders or permission of the Izmir Health Directorate. The two rogue workers tested some 100 people.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a complaint against journalist Fatih Portakal over lying and using statements that aim to manipulate people on social media. Following Erdoğan's remarks on a series of orders issued during Turkey's War of Independence, Portakal questioned whether money will be asked from those have deposits or savings, prompting Erdoğan to sue him.
Coronavirus concerns have pushed Turkish customers to make the switch to using contactless payment. The data show that the number of contactless payments made through credit and debit cards tripled in March, compared to the same month of last year. Contactless payments do not require purchasers to insert their cards into payment machines; instead they hold their cards over the terminal.
HDP deputy Garo Paylan has asked Health Minister Fahrettin Koca the reason for why only 500 tests were carried out in the past 27 days in Diyarbakır. "Is discrimination the case when distributing tests to Diyarbakır and other provinces in the region?" Paylan, who is a Diyarbakır lawmaker, said in his parliamentary question following reports on the issue.
It’s impossible for the Turkish Post (PTT) to deliver surgical masks to 25 million households with its 14,000 delivery workers, a member of Turkey's Media, Communication andPostal Employees Union (Haber Sen) said. She added that the outbreak dramatically increased the workload of understaffed PTT in a video call with Istanbul Provincial Chair for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop announced the cancellation of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day celebrations over the coronavirus pandemic that killed over 600 people in the country. "We had to postpone the celebrations that people would gather on April 23. Let's sing the national anthem at 9 p.m. on April 23 in our homes," Şentop said on April 6.
Healthcare workers celebrate when 95-year-old Turkish man recovered from coronavirus leaves hospital
Healthcare professionals at a hospital in the western province of İzmir celebrated when a 95-year-old man recovered from coronavirus (COVID-19) was discharged from the hospital.
Ayhan Sefer Üstün from the newly-founded Future Party likened the coronavirus process in Turkey to the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt in terms of the government's authoritarian tendencies. "The society is being tried to enter a new authoritarian environment via making coronavirus an excuse," Üstün, a former deputy of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told Duvar on April 7.
The recent curfew on citizens aged 20 or younger has further decreased the use of public transportation in Istanbul, placing the total decrease at 90 percent since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, a spokesperson for Istanbul Municipality said.
A center for Kurdish language and culture research, the Kurdish Institute of Istanbul, received some 1,048 applications within 24 hours of announcing that they would be opening up new spots for their online classes in the Kurmancî and Kurmanckî dialects of Kurdish. The institute will open 27 new classes of about 40 students for the online courses that will start April 15.
The CHP has called on the government to include political prisoners in a judicial reform bill that will lead to the release of thousands of convicts and prisoners. "Judges have been issuing arrest rulings under political pressure. This exterior pressure applies for the cases of prisoners of thought, political prisoners and some terror arrestees," the CHP said.
Vecdi Erbay writes from Diyarbakır: Since cafes and teahouses have been closed due to the coronavirus, a number of people started selling tea on the streets of Diyarbakır. Some of them are roving tea sellers. They stroll around the city until they come across a policeman.
Cases of domestic disturbances and violence in Istanbul surged by 38.2 percent in March, compared to the same month of last year, according to police data. The city however saw a reduction in the number of robberies, murders, grand larcenies since there are little to no people on the streets amid the coronavirus outbreak.
According to an infectious diseases specialist's calculation, 600,000-900,000 people are already infected with the coronavirus in Turkey – several times higher than the officially confirmed number.
A total of 58.5 dollars was reportedly cut from the personal accounts of a number of Turkish teachers after using Zoom upon the request of their school managers. School managers and administrators obliged teachers to use Zoom, since 100 people can attend an online meeting at the same time free of charge, to continue classes online, daily Sözcü reported on April 6. Turkey's Education Ministry released a statement, saying that they have been warning teachers, students and administrators against cyber attacks.
Istanbul’s water reservoirs are only 65% full, their second-lowest level within the past decade. “The average amount of water distributed to Istanbul in March was 2,731,147 cubic meters. This number is the same today after all production has stopped,” an Istanbul Technical University (ITU) lecturer said.
Turkey's Health Ministry last week approved the use of plasma therapy to treat the novel coronavirus. The treatment works by taking donated blood from someone who has recovered from the virus and giving it to a critically ill patient. The technique was for the first time applied on a patient in the eastern province of Malatya on April 5.
The government has denied an employee of his right to benefit from a salary support program set up to help employers pay their staff wages amid the coronavirus outbreak. The denial was on the grounds that the employee in question was previously a public servant who was dismissed from his job by a government decree in post-coup Turkey.
Douglas Winslow from Fitch said that Turkey's economy will catch up with its sustainable trend of growth next year. "In the first quarter of this year economic growth had accelerated to above 6%. We now anticipate a very sharp contraction in the second quarter, flatter growth in the third quarter and then recovery in the fourth quarter, as activities begin to normalize after the partial lockdown," he said.
According to a poll submitted to main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, some 84 percent of the Turkish citizens reportedly support a curfew against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The participants were also asked about the problems that Turkey needs to solve urgently. The pandemic topped the list, with 46 percent saying that it's the most urgent issue.
A non-governmental organization in Turkey, the Human Rights School, will be holding weekly online classes concerning human rights violations during the COVID-19 outbreak. The first class will be held April 6 on the NGO’s YouTube channel.
Ankara University Biotechnology Institute Director Aykut Özkul has succeeded in isolating the COVID-19 virus, which is the first step to create a vaccine and medication against it. “This is just the beginning. We are determined and ambitious. A Turkish scientist has isolated the virus!” said the institute in a tweet April 5.
Turkish healthcare workers did the penguin dance to cheer up patients receiving treatment for coronavirus in a private hospital in the eastern province of Malatya. Doctor Zercan Kalı from the hospital shared the video, saying "These difficult days will pass. Let's keep our spirits high and abide by the measures."
The Turkish Post (PTT) website crashed April 5 following an overwhelming number of applications for free surgical masks, which became mandatory in public places April 3. Applications for the free service will be taken on the government’s online services website, PTT noted after the online application site crashed.
Interior minister denies police were forced to donate money to Turkish gov’t campaign against COVID-19
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has refuted journalist Fatih Portakal's claims of police being forced to donate money to a government campaign against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that there are those who choose to donate. "The state has a legal campaign and there may be officers who want to support it. I won't meddle with that," Soylu told daily Sözcü on April 6.
The reflections of a hospital security guard: If I am lucky to find a mask I have to use it for 12 hours
Pınar Öğünç reports: Security guards, particularly those who work at hospitals, face a great risk of contracting coronavirus as they are the first people that encounter the patients. A man in his 30's who has worked for nearly a decade as a security guard in a state hospital in Istanbul tells that if he is fortunate to find a mask he has to use it for 12 hours. "There is so much anxiety but the empire of fear won't allow you to raise your voice," he says.
According to a report prepared by the CHP, over 5 million people were left either temporarily or permanently unemployed amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic .Some 144,690 workplaces were temporarily closed as part of the measures to curb the spread of the pandemic, resulting in a significant increase in the number of people unemployed, the main opposition said.
The shooting of a TV series for pro-government ATV has been ongoing despite backlash from unions, performers and thousands of social media users amid the coronavirus pandemic. "World class precautions taken in Eşkıya Dünyaya Hükümdar Olmaz's set!" said ATV on its Twitter account. Speaking about the issue, renowned actress Ayşenil Şamlıoğlu said "There is no way that I can understand the continuation of these sets."
Turkish police have urged citizens to stay at home in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by writing "Stay home" using synthetic drugs seized in a narcotic operation. A week earlier, police in Istanbul's Beyoğlu also shared the same message by writing it with seized marijuana packages.
A report from the Platform of the Branches of Istanbul Worker Unions that was published on April 3 revealed that the majority of Istanbul’s four million workers do not belong to a labor or trade union. The report noted that this leaves the workers in a particularly vulnerable position amid the COVID-19 outbreak, as the epidemic is expected to trigger mass unemployment.
Turkey's Health Ministry has updated its criteria for who can and should be tested for COVID-19. Accordingly, it will be enough for a patient to develop just one of the following symptoms to avail of diagnostic testing: cough, difficulty in breathing, or fever.
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 Science Committee, predicts the epidemic will peak around the end of April. “The disease peaks within around 60 days. Considering it appeared on March 11 in Turkey, we still have three to four weeks to go,” Azap told daily Habertürk on April 3.
An Istanbul court has rejected the metropolitan municipality's request for the cancellation of a concession tender on the rental of unused warehouses at the symbolic Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci train stations. "It is very meaningful to announce this decision, which has been put on hold for months now, at the time of the coronavirus epidemic,” Mayor İmamoğlu said.
An Istanbul court has rejected the appeal against the arrest of OdaTV journalists Barış Pehlivan, Barış Terkoğlu and Hülya Kılınç, who were jailed in March over a report covering the funeral of a member of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT) killed in Libya.
Anyone who violates the required 14-day self isolation following international travels, as well as anyone attempting to escape from to their quarantine location will now be subject to a search warrant issued in their name. The first example of such a warrant was issued for an individual from Istanbul’s Ümraniye district, whose search warrant declares they are “wanted for disseminating a contagious disease.”
Turkey's Central Bank has become the largest gold purchaser in the world in January and February of this year, with 41 tons of gold. Turkey was followed by Russia (19 tons), the United Arab Emirates (5.9 tons), Kazakhstan (2.8 tons) and Mongolia (1 ton).
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that more than two million workers in Turkey have lost their jobs due to measures taken to contain the coronavirus outbreak. "They had to start a campaign to keep people home. This current campaign has only led to one thing: unemployment," he said. "They will get unemployment wages from the unemployment fund for a short time, but there are no guarantees after that," he added.
The “Hello Fatwa” hotline of the Istanbul Mufti’s Office has been receiving a flurry of questions about the compatibility of COVID-19 precautions with Islam, the Mufti of Istanbul Prof. Mehmet Emin Maşalı said on April 3. People calling the hotline have asked whether alcohol-based disinfectants corrupt one’s ablution and whether it is a sin to use alcohol-based medications.
In fight with the coronavirus among the precautions taken by the Ankara Municipality last month included the banning of recyclable collectors who work long hours picking through the trash searching for reusable materials. Following the ban of the occupation, the Ankara Municipality has started disinfecting the areas in which the collectors live, while providing them with three hot meals a day and rent and utility support.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has called on the state-owned Vakıfbank to send the money raised as part of a coronavirus aid campaign back to the municipality. Following the government's move banning municipalities from raising funds for low-income families, Vakıfbank had blocked the Istanbul municipality's donation account in which 900,000 Turkish Liras [approximately $136,000] were deposited.
Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union (KESK) has said that it will file a criminal complaint if workers are forced to make donations to the National Solidarity Campaign launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “The campaign, to which contributing must be voluntary, is being tried to be turned into a campaign that hundreds of thousands of civil servants are forced to contribute,” read a statement released by KESK.
Turkish teachers blacklisted for not contributing to Erdoğan’s donation campaign, independent union claims
Teachers across Turkey are pressured to participate in the donation campaign launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to offer financial help to those hit by the coronavirus outbreak, country's independent education union Eğitim-Sen claimed. According to a report in daily Sözcü, the director of education in the province of Adıyaman, sent a message that reached all the schools requesting teachers to donate to the campaign and then send a receipt proving they had done so.
Former President Gül says early parole bill should include journalists, others jailed on ‘thought crimes’
Former President Abdullah Gül has said that prisoners who were jailed for their political views should also benefit from the government's early parole bill -- provided that these views have not been motivated by "hate, violence or terror."
Over 600 academics and rights activists, including world-renowned intellects such as Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler, have signed an open letter and expressed their solidarity with Turkish food engineer Bülent Şık, who was sentenced to 15 months in jail for revealing the cancer risks posed by toxic pollution in western Turkey. The signature campaign has called upon the Turkish Court of Appeals to nullify Şık's conviction.
A Twitter user and citizen journalist dubbed “Ankara Bird” was detained on April 2 on charges related to the US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, Ankara’s main suspect for the 2016 coup attempt. Friends of the user, identified only as O.Y., seem to think his detention was prompted by critical Tweets he had written about branches of government.
People gather to drift cars, party with belly dancers despite coronavirus outbreak in southern Turkey
A group of 51 people gathered in the Kepez district of the southern province of Antalya to drift cars and party with belly dancers despite warnings to stay home amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Police raided the group's party and fined them 392 Turkish Liras each.
Turkey’s major labor and trade unions released a petition April 1 including seven recommendations to the government in the fight against COVID-19. Most items urge the government to establish protective measures to shield workers and vulnerable parts of society.
AKP deputy Recep Özel wrote on Twitter that 245 of 268 coronavirus patients in Turkey's western province of Isparta were pilgrims who were placed in the province's student dormitories as part of quarantine measures. Just minutes later, Özel deleted his tweets.
Turkey’s top religious authority issues fatwa on donating zakat to state’s campaign against COVID-19
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) has issued a fatwa on donating zakats to the state's campaign that was launched to collect money to be used in the country's struggle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "What one needs to be careful about is that the person donating money should state that it's zakat," Diyanet said.
A total of 302 writers, academics, journalists, scientists and rights activists have signed a declaration demanding that the government does not discriminate against political prisoners in its early parole bill. The legal amendment excludes inmates charged with terrorism – a charge which the government misuses for political ends. Jailed human rights activists, journalists and opposition politicians will therefore not be among those considered for early release.
The Izmir Medical Chamber was banned from sharing links from their own website on their social media accounts March 31. The social media websites involved did not notify the users of any ban, and the chamber called for the block to be removed swiftly.
Turkey has sent medical aid packages with Jalaluddin Rumi's words on to Italy and Spain, the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus in Europe, to help their fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness," read the banners placed on the aid packages.
As the country that has suffered the highest number of deaths from the coronavirus epidemic, Italy is frequently used to compare the situation of other countries. Italian statistics experts talking to the BBC's Turkish service said that comparing Italy and Turkey is like comparing apples and oranges as the progression curve of the virus is not shaping out the same way in two countries.
Residents of Turkey’s villages under quarantine claim that coronavirus was introduced to their population by pilgrims returning from Umrah, or visitors from Istanbul. Villages in the western Marmara region, the northern Black Sea region, central Anatolia and the southeast of the country were placed under quarantine to slow the spread of Covid-19.
A doctor at Izmir's Dokuz Eylül University has issued an apology to the public and to the government after a statement in which he said the number of cases of coronavirus and deaths caused by the virus in Turkey was worse than Italy's. The rector of the Dokuz Eylül University, former ruling Justice and Development Party deputy Nükhet Hotar, released a statement saying that Savran's statement had been misunderstood. Then Yusuf Savran released a new video in which he apologized to "elders in the state".
Istanbul police raided a coronavirus-themed party March 29, dismissing a crowd of about 100 and detaining some 12 people. “We’re detaining them on charges of ‘disobeying preventions targeted at contagious diseases,’” police said.
Istanbul buries coronavirus casualties in coffins instead of shrouds, eliminates communal funeral prayers
Persons who die from coronavirus-related complications are buried in coffins in Istanbul and the communal funeral prayers before the burial are eliminated, an official from the provincial cemeteries directorate said. While morticians now wear personal protective equipment, burial spots aren't lined with lime.
Amid growing concern over the spread of coronavirus, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu welcomed U.S. actor John Malkovich and his four friends with cologne. Malkovich had also taken his precaution against the virus, by wearing latex gloves.
World-renowned cardiac surgeon Dr. Mehmet Öz explained handwashing tips to slow down coronavirus transmission on an American late-night talk show. Dr. Öz said that most people do not know how to wash their hands "right" and showed a handwashing method which he named as “Turkish Twist.”
The internationally-renowned Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has received 2 million TL to help finance his latest film from a fund launched by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture to support Turkey's filmmakers. Ceylan received the highest amount of any director selected.