The capacity of intensive care units in Turkey have been under scrutiny, with experts pointing to the shortcomings that may emerge if the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase in the country. Experts point to the lack of beds, ventilators and healthcare professionals. Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Fikret Şahin, who is also a medical doctor, said that the beds will be left insufficient if the number of cases exceed 250,000.
Turkey's lira weakened to 6.52 against the dollar on March 19, hitting its weakest level since September 2018. In August and September 2018, Turkish Lira hit record lows against the dollar when relations between Turkey and the United States significantly deteriorated over the imprisonment of a U.S. pastor in Turkey.
Turkey's Presidency has requested the people who will attend President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's address to the nation to keep their distance, in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). "Please leave this seat empty and keep your distance for your health," read warnings placed on some of the seats in the hall.
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of Health Ministry’s Science Council, said that Turkey has lost its chance to be like Singapore and needs to spend its energy on not becoming like Italy. "Turkey has reached the critical case threshold of 100. Considering that we conduct a small amount of tests and that 20 percent of the patients come to hospitals and get diagnosed, we may very well have reached the critical threshold days ago," he said.
The Chairman of Turkey’s Council of Higher Education (YÖK) announced Turkish universities will start online classes on March 23. Schools that possess the necessary digital equipment will be holding online classes online and YÖK will provide remote education material to other schools.
Refugees in Istanbul have called on the authorities to act to protect migrants and refugees from coronavirus, saying that they were left to die amid the increasing number of cases. Speaking to Mesopotamia Agency, the refugees said that they took shelter in mosques since congregational prayers were suspended on March 16 to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the financial developments that take place in relation to the decrease in oil prices will provide additional advantages to Turkey. Speaking during a high-level coronavirus meeting, Erdoğan said that Turkey is in a much better situation than Britain, France and Germany.
A minibus driver in Turkey’s capital has dressed his vehicle in a surgical mask to draw attention to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The driver covered the bus’ front bumper in a white cloth that he attached to the side mirrors.
HDP deputy Meral Danış Beştaş was criticized for not imposing quarantine on herself upon returning from Germany on March 8. "From what we see on social media, Beştaş returned from Germany and her quarantine period is ongoing under normal circumstances," AKP Group Deputy Chair Cahit Özkan said in parliament. "Yes, I went to Germany and came back. All the necessary tests were carried out at the airport, my health is perfectly fine. If there were problems, I wouldn't jeopardize my friends and the society," Beştaş said in return.
A total of 28 pilgrims were caught in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum after escaping from coronavirus quarantine. "We sent them to the quarantine areas in [the Central Anatolian province of] Konya and [the capital] Ankara. There are those who manage to avoid quarantine. Our citizens should let us know if they witness such an incident," Erzurum Governor Okay Memiş said.
Four more Taiwanese citizens returning from Turkey tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the number of cases among a group of 15 returning to Taiwan from Turkey to nine, Taiwanese Health Minister Shih-Chung said March 17. “The risk of contracting the coronavirus in Turkey is high,” Shih-Chung noted.
The evacuation of a total of 2,807 Turkish citizens from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands was completed, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. "All measures for their health, safety, nutrition, and accommodation have been taken in line with the rules set by the Health Ministry and Science Board," he said.
A shopkeeper in Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar was reportedly the first person to be diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in Turkey. A video on social media showed two healthcare workers in medical gears talking to two shopkeepers. "You know, the first case is from here and it has been increasing. It was here, in your bazaar," one of the healthcare workers says in the video.
AKP Istanbul deputy Ahmet Hamdi Çamlı has advised people under self-imposed quarantine to "reproduce," referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's repeated suggestion of having at least three children. "Our President has been reminding and encouraging the people to have three children regarding the population issue that's inclining towards decreasing. Corona, that seems to be a malice, will contribute to prosperity and goodness," Çamlı tweeted on March 17.
Threatening public health is a crime, justice minister says after pilgrims try to escape from quarantine
Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül said that to act in a way that would damage public health is a crime according to Turkish Penal Code, a day after dozens of pilgrims in the Central Anatolian province of Konya attempted to escape from coronavirus quarantine.