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.
Jailed journalist Nedim Türfent has said that there are no precautions against coronavirus in prisons. "The prison canteen sells a mask for 17 Turkish Liras, which is very expensive," Türfent told his family in a phone call on March 15, Mesopotamia Agency reported. "No special precautions were taken for the inmates who are in high risk groups and who have chronic illnesses. Tens of thousands of inmates are sleeping on the floor in prisons," he added.
Number of coronavirus cases in Turkey can reach 30,000 if people are not careful, ministerial council member warns
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of Turkish Health Ministry's Science Council, has said that the number of coronavirus cases in Turkey can reach 30,000 if people are not careful enough. "We expect the number of cases to reach nearly 5,000 in the next three to four weeks if precautions are adopted. If not, then the number can reach 30,000," Prof. Alpay Azap told broadcaster Habertürk, adding that people need to act in accordance with the warnings.
Nine AKP and two CHP lawmakers are in self-imposed quarantine and are under close surveillance of Parliament Speaker's Office, sources told Duvar, adding that the office called the parties to ask lawmakers to not show up in parliament. "Our lawmaker friends have put themselves under quarantine in their houses for 14 days as necessitated by their responsibilities," Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop said on March 17.
Muslims in the Eyyübiye district of the southeastern province of Urfa have said that they won't abide by the Diyanet's decision to suspend all congregational prayers in mosques. "We are not afraid of the coronavirus. Since Allah ordered prayers to be performed with congregation, we will go on," one of the residents told local media.
A total of 19 people were detained over sharing "unfounded and provocative" posts on social media about coronavirus, Turkey's Interior Ministry has said. The interior ministry statement said there were social media posts which were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.
Dozens of pilgrims taken into coronavirus quarantine in a student dormitory in the Central Anatolian province of Konya confronted police during their attempt to escape. The incident was slammed on social media, with Twitter users saying that the escape attempt is reckless. When asked about the incident, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that "a more detailed plan was prepared on the issue."
Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were taken into quarantine on March 15 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Thousands of students residing in dormitories belonging to the Higher Education Loans and Dormitories Institution (KYK) were told to leave the dorms at midnight, with some unable to gather their belongings. The pilgrims under quarantine, meanwhile, complained about the dormitories being "similar to a barn."
Turkey will temporarily close bars and nightclubs as of Monday as part of measures to curb the coronavirus outbreak. The Interior Ministry on Sunday ordered the closure across all 81 provinces starting 10 a.m. local time today.
Public transportation ridership is down by 10 percent in Istanbul in the last three days, the municipality announced on March 13. The number of passengers has reduced to around 6.73 million per day from 7.44 million amidst growing concern over the novel coronavirus, the municipality spokesperson announced.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate said on March 13 that instead of attending weekly collective mosque prayers on Fridays, Muslims in the high risk group can pray at home amid coronavirus concerns. Underscoring that Friday prayers were a must for every obliged person, the statement said that various justifications could excuse a person from the congregation, including danger to life, property or health.
Turkey has slammed The New York Times and CNN International for using pictures taken in Istanbul in their reports on new U.S. travel restrictions over coronavirus. "It is disturbing to see that following the U.S. announcement to suspend travel to the United States from Schengen Countries, The New York Times and CNN used photos from Istanbul in their coverage in total contradiction with principles of professional and objective journalism," Ambassador Kılıç said.
Turkey's Health Ministry has appointed a National Medical Rescue Team (UMKE) to conduct health screenings on the thousands of migrants at the Greek border. UMKE employees have begun to disinfect the encampment and check the temperatures of migrants with electronic and thermal devices.