Coronavirus
Despite New York City being currently one of the world's worst coronavirus hotspots, Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines has not suspended its flights from the U.S. city. A U.S.-based Turkish academic has called on the authorities to tackle this issue and to find those who arrived from New York City to Istanbul in the last two weeks to place them under quarantine.
Turkish schools will remain closed until April 30 due to coronavirus pandemic and will continue to offer remote learning from home for students during this time period, said Education Minister Ziya Selçuk.
A Russian Navy cargo ship transited the Bosphorus Strait en route to Syria on March 24. The Russian Dvinitsa-50 ship, part of Moscow’s auxiliary fleet, was carrying at least three military ambulances along with a shipping container on its deck.
Turkey’s financial “shield package” against the blow of the coronavirus might be forcing small businesses into more debt. Turkey’s preventative measures will allow for 100 billion Turkish Liras’ worth of loans and debts to be deferred with interest for three months.
A Fenerbahçe football player and Medipol Başakşehir chair Göksel Gümüşdağ tested positive for coronavirus on March 25. "Our players, technical staff and administrative employees underwent coronavirus tests in Samandıra Can Bartu Facility. One footballer and medical team worker were tested positive and were dispatched to a hospital for treatment," Fenerbahçe said in a statement without giving the names of those diagnosed.
The southeastern border province of Mardin is lacking precautions against the coronavirus, particularly among the trade workers who regularly travel across the Turkish border, the local medical chamber co-chair said. “As far as we know, we have about 500 residents under home quarantine right now, most of them drivers,” Dr. Osman Sağlam said.
Prof. Luca Lorini from Bergamo's Pope John XXIII Hospital urged Turkish people to ask the government for the declaration of a curfew in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). "Ask the government to declare a curfew immediately without waiting. Just like we did 15 days ago. The numbers have been decreasing for two days. This is the best medicine against the virus," Lorini said.
Turkish excerpts agree that while rapid testing kits for coronavirus can be faulty at times, they are a good tool to allow healthcare workers to prioritize patients for the diagnostic test. The antibody test is more reliable, however, it takes five to six days after infection for the antibodies to appear in the patient’s bloodstream and for them to test positive.
A study carried out by Veloxity shows a significant correlation between the socioeconomic status of the people in Istanbul and their levels of self-isolation. Veloxity said that the districts that stayed at home due to the coronavirus outbreak the most were Kadıköy, Ataşehir, Çamlıca, Fatih, Ataköy, Bakırköy, Florya, Etiler and Şişli - districts with higher socioeconomic status.
Hotels in the metropolis Istanbul and the capital Ankara will be hosting healthcare workers for free, they said March 24. The five-star The Marmara on Istanbul's central Taksim Square will welcome workers from two nearby hospitals, Independent Turkish reported.
Murat Yetkin writes: Both the Ministry of Health and the members of the scientific committee failed to convince President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for a country-wide lockdown to slow down the spread of the coronavirus in Turkey. Furthermore, rumor has it that Koca’s press conference on March 23 was penned with annexes from the speechwriters of the Presidential Palaces, as well as certain penitentiaries in Istanbul.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and Education Minister Ziya Selçuk will make a joint statement at 7:15 p.m. on March 25 following a meeting of the Health Ministry's Science Commission, which will discuss the issue of whether to extend the school break or not. A day earlier, Erdoğan said that they should act in accordance with the recommendations of the Science Commission.
In a memorandum that was sent to all of Turkey's 81 provinces, the Ministry of Health has suspended non-emergency surgeries and has requested that those coming to Turkey from a number of countries for the purpose of health tourism postpone their visits.
To what extent the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests produced locally in Turkey are reliable has become a major topic of curiosity following the death of retired general Aytaç Yalman. Yalman had tested negative for coronavirus only to subsequently test positive for it. According to doctor Kurt Azap, negative results also have to be confirmed for their accuracy.
Dr. Kutbettin Demir, Board Chairman of Istanbul Family Practitioners Association, has said that 24 family practitioners and nurses in various districts of Istanbul tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). "A couple of our friends are receiving treatment at hospitals, while the rest are continuing their treatments at home. There is nothing to worry about in terms our friends' health conditions," Demir told daily Milliyet on March 25.
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Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
The Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the Black Sea province of Samsun has observed raging fires since the reversal of its "protected area" status. While a part of the delta was transferred to the property of the government, environmentalists suspect the fires were started intentionally.
Local medical device companies have warned the Turkish Health Ministry that if debts owed by the government hospitals remain unpaid, there could be a “disruption in the health services” starting as early as in October. The Turkish Medical Equipment and Devices Manufacturers Association (TÜDER) has said that local medical firms have been waiting for the last 16 months to get their payment which has reached to around $26 billion Turkish Liras ($3.4 billion) in total.
Turkish Justice Ministry has dismissed a parliamentary question on the release of a rapist soldier for being "offensive." Uca in her question asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to reveal the reason for why former specialized sergeant Musa Orhan was released despite raping İpek Er. The ministry said that the question can be accepted if the terms found "crude and offensive" are removed.
Turkey reportedly didn't apprehend ISIS militant Yunus Durmaz responsible for deadly attacks in Turkey despite determining his location 19 times between April 29 and May 19, 2016. Durmaz, who was sought over the attacks in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, the Suruç district of the southeastern province of Urfa, the capital Ankara and Istanbul's Taksim, blew himself up during a police raid on an ISIS cell in 2016.
An 80-year-old inmate who was imprisoned for holding a Muslim memorial service in Kurdish died on Sept. 23, without being allowed to see his family, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said. The old man's conviction should have been delayed in the first place since he was ill, the deputy added.
Former Zaman daily columnist Mümtazer Türköne has been released from jail following Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for his retrial. Türköne's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu has said she believes the release came after the Court of Cassation overturned the sentence following an appeal.
Turkey will not make any concessions over its claims in the eastern Mediterranean, said a statement issued following the country's National Security Council (MGK) meeting. “It has been once again emphasized that Turkey will not make a concession with regards to its rights and interests on land, sea or in the air, as has been the case up until today,” the statement read.
A group of lawyers close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have submitted their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) to form a second bar association in Istanbul. The group has collected just over 2,000 signatures required to establish their own association as per a new legislation which was passed by Turkish parliament in July of this year.
The trial into the murder of a 12-year-old girl shot dead on Oct. 12, 2015 in Diyarbakır during a curfew, has been put on hold following the Interior Ministry's refusal to grant permission for the prosecution of the police officer in question.
The Ankara Medical Chamber has said that the number of healthcare staff who have contracted the COVID-19 in the city has increased by 61 in the last eight days, reaching to a total of 943.
The Turkish government is reportedly planning to hand prison sentences between two months and a year to those violating quarantine rules based on an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which regulates behavior in violation of the measures against contagious diseases. The country on Sept. 23 announced the death toll as 72 - its highest since the beginning of May.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) police teams on Sept. 24 demolished some restaurants and cafes on Heybeliada on the grounds that they were unlicensed. Café owners slammed the İBB's move saying that they had already paid an "occupancy fee" to the local management to use the lands in question.
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş will carry the indictments into him as medals, as he commented on a recent visit by a chief public prosecutor to the presidential palace. "We know that there are prosecutors lined up in front of Erdoğan," the CHP leader said.
Construction on Turkey's first nuclear power plant is ongoing amid reports of unpaid wages, the general manager said on Sept. 23. While management said it was contract companies that were lagging behind on payments, they launched an investigation into the wages nonetheless.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield has said debts owed by Turkish government hospitals to American pharmaceutical companies had risen to around $2.3 billion, warning that there will be consequences for non-payment of debt or reductions in payment. "Companies will consider departing the Turkish market or will reduce exposure to Turkish market. This is not a direction which serves the interests of Turkey," he said on Sept. 23.
The Turkish Health Ministry is under scrutiny over the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases it announces daily. "This is not the exact number of positive cases. However, this is not the number of patients receiving treatment at hospitals only," the ministry reportedly told Prof. Mehmet Ceyhan, prompting confusion on what the numbers on the daily coronavirus chart mean.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cautioned Turkey against further deployment of equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on its soil, saying it would complicate the military cooperation between the two NATO allies. The U.S. believes Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage.
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel has asked the government to reveal who received millions of dollars of bribe from shady Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab. "It's said that $80 million of this money was given to a single politician. Will the Financial Crime Investigation Board, Turkish Treasury, Court of Accounts and other auditors be mobilized?" Özel asked.
Turkey on Sept. 23 recorded more than 70 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. Seventy two people died over the past 24 hours due to the COVID-19 in Turkey, while 1,767 new cases were diagnosed, according to the daily figures the Health Ministry announced on a COVID-19 dedicated website on Sept. 23.
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.