coronavirus outbreak
Students have flocked to bus terminals after Turkey shut schools and universities over coronavirus despite calls to avoid public spaces and crowds. Pictures from bus terminals showed students lined up in front of ticket windows, prompting criticism on social media. Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on March 13 said that the government's decision to suspend schools was adopted to decrease crowded environments.
A member of the Turkish Health Ministry's Corona Science committee said that the panic over the coronavirus pandemic was 'unfounded'. More than 80 percent of patients have mild symptoms, Özlü noted, adding that the majority of the remaining 20 percent also fully recover after hospitalization.
An Afghan migrant was taken to hospital after getting stabbed over coronavirus on March 13. "Did you bring coronavirus here?" said the assailant who then stabbed the Afghan national.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has resulted in a sharp drop in the number of tourists traveling to Turkey, affecting Grand Bazaar shopkeepers. Yet for some, the most pressing concern is the lack of precaution being taken to curb the pandemic.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be in isolation for two weeks after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for coronavirus on March 12. "The Prime Minister is in good health with no symptoms. As a precautionary measure and following the advice of doctors, he will be in isolation for a planned period of 14 days," an official statement said. Sophie will be in quarantine for 14 days.
A second patient has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Turkey, the country's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on March 13. Turkey’s first case was announced earlier this week, a man who had recently returned from Europe. Another statement was released by Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, who said that the second patient is also “under control.”
Widely-known Turkish surgeon Mehmet Öz released a "coronavirus survival protocol" on March 8 in which he suggested lifestyle changes and supplemental immune support measures in addition to more common hygiene practices. In what came as a surprise to many, Öz suggested meditation as a means of protection from contracting coronavirus as it may improve the immune system.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has urged people to resist for two months, since summer will weaken coronavirus (COVID-19). "This disease is more of a winter infection. If we adopt measures and prevent it from spreading, it's highly likely that life will return to normal in two months," he added.
Following Turkey's Minister Fahrettin Koca's announcement of Turkey's first confirmed coronavirus case, consumers in Turkey have flocked to markets to purchase certain consumer goods, ignoring calls from health experts to not succumb to panic. Wet wipes, latex gloves, lemon-scented cologne and pasta are rapidly disappearing from shelves.
FIBA announced on March 12 that all FIBA competitions are suspended as of March 13 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. "FIBA will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis and will evaluate the options for the continuation or not of the respective competitions when and if the situation allows for it," it said.
Trump imposed sweeping restrictions on travel from European countries over coronavirus, with Turkey not included in the list. The restriction applies to countries in the Schengen Area, which are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The"Big White Meeting" that Turkey's healthcare workers' unions were planning to hold in Ankara to protest widespread violence against healthcare workers in the country was cancelled due to the first official case of coronavirus being detected in Turkey March 10, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said March 11.
At least four universities in the mega-city Istanbul have announced they would be suspending on-campus classes for two weeks. Boğaziçi University became the first state institution to call off classes amid the coronavirus outbreak, moving up and extending their spring break.
An aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan scanned journalists and politicians who crowded around the Turkish leader as he arrived in parliament with a thermal camera, checking people he met for fever which could be linked to coronavirus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Turkey for taking "vigilant" measures against coronavirus (COVID-19). Irshad Shaikh, the WHO Health Security Program Leader in Turkey, praised Ankara's preventative measures and good organization, saying it had been "very lucky, vigilant and cautious." "Turkey is an advanced country, and most of the systems were already there. What was needed was to make sure they are quick to this outbreak," Shaikh told Reuters.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
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
Hate speech and threats against Armenians in Turkey have accelerated following the outbreak of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan. HDP MP Garo Paylan, himself a Turkish-Armenian, has been targeted for his insistence on a ceasefire. "We can conclude that there will be no favorable results from this war--which has caused loss and destruction on both sides—and that the solution is on the peace table," Paylan said.
Turkey's top medical association has said that 143,000 coronavirus patients are currently treated at their homes, whereas 460,000 others have been placed under mandatory home quarantine. The Turkish Medical Association made the remarks based on the results of a survey conducted with family physicians across the country.
A report penned by CHP lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu has said that 29 journalists, writers and publishers have received jail terms during January-September period of this year, 20 of whom have been arrested. "The animosity against journalists that is on the rise during the AKP rule is due to the government's stance against freedom of press,” Tanrıkulu said.
A group of university students and alumni are requesting that the Credit and Dormitories Agency (KYK) annul all loans. Currently, some five million Turkish university students are in debt to the state-run KYK, and 300,000 face prosecution for not being able to pay back the debt.
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Economy
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
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.
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.
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.
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.