President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has held a video conference with ministers, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, to discuss the recent developments on the country's struggle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Soylu told Erdoğan that the use of public transportation in 15 metropolises decreased by 80 percent between March 1 and 23.
Ankara recently deferred tax payments for some businesses due to “force majeure" as part of its initiative to soften the blow of the coronavirus on the economy. Force majeure is a legal term that refers to an unforeseen “superior force,” in this case the coronavirus, that interrupts someone’s ability to fulfill legal or financial obligations.
Reduction in sex offense sentences included in judiciary reform fast-tracked under coronavirus precautions
A judiciary reform package that was fast-tracked to allow precautions against coronavirus in prisons would allow for sex offense sentences to be reduced. Sex offenders would have to spend only 67 percent of their sentence in prison, down from 75 percent, and would be allowed to spend the rest of their sentence on probation.
Football federation head under fire for not suspending league after Fatih Terim tests positive for coronavirus
Turkish Football Federation head Nihat Özdemir came under fire on social media after Galatasaray coach announced that he tested positive for coronavirus. Terim was one of the most vocal figures in the Turkish football scene about the need for the suspension of the league. Before the suspension decision was announced on March 19, the matches were played without fans in attendance.
Suspicious death of a man on March 17, who worked at the ticket booth of Istanbul's iconic Dolmabahçe Palace, raised questions whether he died of novel coronavirus and the state concealed the facts. The main opposition Repubican People's Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer submitted a number of parliamentary questions to Vice President Fuat Oktay asking why dead man's coworkers were pressured to remain silent about the case.
Rapid coronavirus test kits, which were imported from China, have been released and are now in use, Turkey's Health Ministry announced in a memo to press last weekend. Rapid tests reveal the results of whether one is infected with the virus or not in 15 minutes.
Turkey's Interior Ministry issued a notice early on March 24 saying all grocery stores will limit how many customers are allowed in the store premises at the same time, while all buses will be allowed to carry only half their capacity.
Turkish coronavirus researcher Mustafa Ulaşlı, who was previously sacked with a statutory decree (KHK), said that not a single official person has yet contacted him to utilize his expertise on research related to potential coronavirus vaccine. Ulaşlı's comments came after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca earlier said that the ministry wants every kind of information that can be helpful in treating the virus to be shared with them.
Turkey’s death toll from coronavirus rose by seven to 37 as the number of cases surged to 1,529, Health Minister Koca said. He also said that 3,672 tests were carried out within the last 24 hours.
Turkish football club Galatasaray's coach Fatih Terim has announced that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus and was being treated at the hospital. On March 15, during a press conference, Terim had criticized the Turkish Football Federation for not suspending the league.
Turkey's medical staff sacked with statutory decrees (KHK) have said that they want to help the country fight the novel coronavirus, even if that means putting their own lives at risk. Leaders of opposition parties have also demanded that the government reinstate the sacked medical staff back to their jobs.
Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar ("Kapalı Çarşı" in Turkish), one of the world’s oldest covered markets, has been temporarily closed amid coronavirus precautions.
Hospitals and clinics in Turkey’s capital Ankara have been telling their employees to pack for 10-day shifts, which they think will be the country’s response to a surge in the number of people infected with the coronavirus. Meanwhile, healthcare workers unions urge the Health Ministry to step in to ensure the wellbeing of workers.
The first batch of rapid coronavirus test kits were brought to Turkey from China early on March 23. A cargo plane of Turkish Cargo was sent to Shanghai to carry the first batch of the tests. The plane landed in Istanbul's Atatürk Airport at around 4 a.m.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on March 23 said that Turkey imported a medicine from China which is believed to be effective against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He said that Turkish health personnel have already started to use it to treat coronavirus patients in intensive care units. Koca is believed to be referring to anti-viral drug Favipiravir.