coronavirus infections
Prof. Mehmet Doğanay from Turkish Health Ministry's Science Council has named Istanbul, the capital Ankara, the western province of İzmir, the southern province of Antalya and the eastern province of Van as the Turkish cities under the highest coronavirus risk. Doğanay also said that he expects the virus to wane when the weather gets warmer.
As the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase in Turkey, people are stuck between the fear of getting infected by the highly contagious coronavirus (COVID-19) and sustaining their livelihood. While authorities continue to urge people to refrain from going outside, those who are required to work are concerned about the risk to their own health and that of their families. For those who are working from home, the situation has other setbacks - mainly being forced to work more hours and facing psychological pressure.
Tezcan Karakuş Candan, head of the Ankara branch of Turkey's Chamber of Architects, has said that a company has been constructing a wedding hall on the land of the city's iconic Atatürk Forest Farm under the disguise of "landscape design." "Coronavirus opportunists are working. Everyone's concerned on their health, but they are still after land rent and looting," Candan said about the Pusay Tourism Logistic Co. Ltd.
Turkish citizens are able to access their coronavirus (COVID-19) test results online, the country's Health Ministry said on March 20. The results will be able to be seen from the "e-Nabız" website and mobile application.
A group of Turkish taxi drivers have protested the decrease in the number of passengers, as hundreds of thousands of people have been refraining from going outside to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). "The drivers are in a race to earn money. Accident risks are increasing. We are working for the owner of the licence plate," Yunus Başboğa, a taxi driver speaking on behalf of the group, said on March 20.
Istanbul Municipality has prepared informative videos on coronavirus (COVID-19) in Turkish, Kurdish, English, Persian and Arabic as part of its efforts to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus. The videos are currently being screened on public transportation and displays.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has urged people to declare their own state of emergencies. "They ask me whether we will declare a state of emergency. There is no need to do that. You should take your own measures," Koca said, adding that people should refrain from going outside in the next two to three weeks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a decree on March 20 postponing all events related to science, culture and art, as it seeks to contain a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. The decree published in the Official Gazette said all meetings and activities, indoors or outdoors, related to science, culture, art and other similar fields would be postponed until the end of April.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have started reworking on regulations that would lead to the release of thousands of prisoners in Turkey amid calls for taking measures in prisons over coronavirus. Prisons in Turkey are known to be at overcapacity, with reports of people sleeping on the floors being common. Rights groups have been drawing attention to the fact that coronavirus can easily be spread via prison guards or the arrival of people newly arrested.
On March 19, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoglu urged older residents to decrease their use of public transportation amid the coronavirus outbreak. “I would like to urge our older residents to please, please stay away from public places,” said Imamoğlu in a tweet.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said on March 19 that uncertainty about the global supply chain generated by the pandemic represented an opportunity for Turkey. He also said that he had "no concerns" about Turkey's ability to meet its economic growth, budget and inflation targets for 2020 despite expectations of a potentially severe global recession due to the coronavirus.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that Turkey conducted over 10,000 coronavirus (COVID-19) tests so far and aims to carry out between 10,000 and 15,000 tests daily. "We think that the number of tests will increase significantly in the upcoming days," he told lawmakers in a speech in parliament on March 19, adding that a quick diagnosis kit will be put to use in the next one or two days.
Four major Turkish clothing companies announced they were closing their stores indefinitely as of March 19 in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The internationally-renowned Turkish denim manufacturer Mavi Jeans and the luxury boutique chain Beymen were among the four firms.
A Turkish researcher who has conducted research on the coronavirus for almost a decade was removed form his position by a state of emergency decree following the botched coup attempt of 2016, making it impossible for him to join the fight against the deadly disease. “Will the Justice Ministry continue to keep so many qualified scientists at bay during this time of crisis when the Health Ministry needs more personnel than ever?” asked an opposition deputy in a parliamentary question on March 18.
The Turkish Medical Association released two explanatory videos on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. One speaks to civilians, the other to healthcare professionals. Amongst other things, Prof. Özlem Kurt Azap, a member of the TTB Coronavirus Inspection Group, says civilians should only wear masks if they are infected, or in contact with coronavirus patients.
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Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
A missile was fired into the sky on Oct. 16 on Turkey's Black Sea coast where the military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defense systems, according to local video obtained by Reuters. "If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO  Ally and strategic partner of the United States," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.
Economy
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
CHP deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel has found a lost letter penned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's founding father, to a U.S. child called Curtis La France. "My advice to the intelligent and hardworking children of the U.S. is to not perceive everything they hear about Turks as true and attach importance to basing their opinions on scientific and sound examinations. I wish you success and happiness," Atatürk said in the letter.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.