Health Minister Fahrettin Koca
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has refuted reports that the Menzil cult is active within the ministry, while also promising to fight all cults. The minister's remarks came after Ali Edizer, a deputy chief physician, was removed from his post after defending Islamist polygamy on social media. His links to the Menzil cult surfaced later on, adding to the years-long suspicion that the religious group is active in the ministry.
Istanbul has observed a 50 percent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the past month, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Oct. 14. "We are not considering any restrictive precautions in Istanbul at the moment," Koca said, adding that more than 40,000 health workers had tested positive for COVID-19 in Turkey so far.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the ministry will reveal all the coronavirus data starting from Oct. 15. "We'll share them even if they are asymptomatic. We are starting on Oct. 15. We'll be continuing screening on the field in a way that encompasses the whole society within two months," Koca told daily Hürriyet on Oct. 11. The minister previously drew outrage after revealing that the daily COVID-19 figures reflected only patients with symptoms, excluding asymptomatic positive cases.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said that the pace of the COVID-19 pandemic has been slowing down in recent weeks in the country. The minister's comments come shortly after the revelation that the Health Ministry had only been reporting the number of symptomatic COVID-19 patients as the official case count.
A study has indicated that the government was aware of the coronavirus in Turkey in the month prior to the announcement of the first case. Meanwhile, two Turkish scientists have said that Istanbul recorded 6,645 more deaths than expected between March 11-Sept. 29, based on weekly averages from the last five years – suggesting a hidden toll.
A recent statement by Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca revealed that official COVID-19 data has been faulty as early as April, when the minister said that some 20 percent of tests yielded positive results. According to this rate, an average of 200,000 positive results should have been reported in April, but the actual number was closer to 120,000, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) COVID-19 committee member Prof. Kayıhan Pala said.
Azmi Karaveli writes: No offense, but I have decided to believe every word of Turkey's ministers with all my heart. Accepting this is much less abrasive and tiresome. As the Romans say: “Credo quia absurdum est — I believe it because it is absurd.” Thus, we will be successful in the fight against COVID-19 even if we are truly successful, but we will also be successful even if we fail.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca should resign following the revelation that the ministry has been excluding asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from official numbers, Uludağ University's Prof. Kayıhan Pala said. The confirmation of faulty official numbers destroyed trust in the ministry, posing a challenge in the remainder of the fight against the pandemic, the professor added.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) slammed the Health Ministry's differentiation between COVID-19 "cases" and "patients." "Patients and cases are the same thing in the science of medicine. Don't play with our health and our minds!" the Oct. 1 statement from the TTB said.
Turkish state and university hospitals are offering to repay debts totalling some 19 billion lira ($2.43 billion) to drugmakers and medical equipment firms, but with a discount, Reuters reported on Sept. 29.
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Turkey surpassed 8,000 as 65 patients died on Sept. 28, Health Ministry data revealed. Meanwhile, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca noted that the number of recovered patients was higher than the number of new diagnoses for the first time in a while.
The Turkish Health Ministry is under scrutiny over the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases it announces daily. "This is not the exact number of positive cases. However, this is not the number of patients receiving treatment at hospitals only," the ministry reportedly told Prof. Mehmet Ceyhan, prompting confusion on what the numbers on the daily coronavirus chart mean.
Merkez İlaç CEO Mehmet Şapçı has told Health Minister Fahrettin Koca that most of the sanitizers used in hospitals are fake. According to Şapçı, these fake products have around 3.3 percent povidone-iodine, whereas the standard is at 10 percent. He also named the fake products in the letter he sent to the minister.
A group of health workers in Ankara had to barricade the door of an emergency room when loved ones of a patient wanted to push their way in to see the deceased gunshot victim. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that the workers had been afraid of a violent attack, as health workers in Turkey are often targeted by patients' families.
The COVID-19 pandemic has surged to the same intensity as the first two weeks of the outbreak, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chair Sinan Adıyaman said. Meanwhile, chaos could erupt in the winter months as the national health budget becomes strained to the point of bankruptcy, the former chairman of Ankara Medical Association said.
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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
Turkey said it would not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request were made by Baku. "There is already a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If there is a need and Azerbaijan makes such a request, then Turkey would do it openly [provide military support]," Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Oct. 21.
Unidentified assailants have stabbed a 14-year-old Syrian child to death in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Konya. Vail El-Mansur was on his way to the tailor shop he was working at when he was murdered brutally.
Turkish authorities seized 220 kilograms of cocaine on a ship that arrived at a port in the country's southern coast from Brazil. Police in the coastal province of Mersin found the cocaine hidden in a container carrying packages of paper.
Istanbul University's Cerrahpaşa Medical School has been observing twice as many patients, the dean said on Oct. 20. Turkey's official numbers receded to early May levels on the same day, observing some 2,026 diagnoses. "There's almost a doubling of the number of cases and patients seeking help in Cerrahpaşa. The winter might be rough for all of us," the dean said.
Turkey will send some 110,000 tons of grains and flour to countries in need, primarily Syria, a presidential decree in the Official Gazette said on Oct. 21. While the grains will be handed out by Ankara's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent, any wages related to the operation will be taken out of the Treasury's budget as well.
During a recession that has dealt a deep blow to agricultural producers across Turkey, potato farmers are struggling to get by while retailers purchase produce cheap and sell at high prices to consumers. "I don't like the AKP anymore,” said one 70-year-old farmer, who has grown potatoes in Niğde for 45 years.
A controversial social media legislation has enabled the Turkish government to swiftly block access to scores of news reports from critical newspapers and websites within the past month. "What we are facing is a heavy censorship mechanism,” cyber-rights expert Yaman Akdeniz told the daily Cumhuriyet.
The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to free speech of Prof. Baskın Oran and Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu, who faced prosecution in 2005 for publishing a report on the country's minorities. The ECHR said that the legal proceedings against the two academics had “inevitably created pressure" on them leading to “self-censorship.”
The Coalition for Women in Journalism has launched a petition demanding that Turkey immediately drop charges against journalist Ayşegül Doğan, who prosecutors accuse of "being a member of an armed organization." "Today, Ayşegül Doğan has become the target of the government due to her journalism, which touches on social issues such as the struggle for peace, women's struggle and labor," read the petition.
Five years later after the killing of Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elçi, the case still remains unsolved, amid claims that the Turkish intelligence service's neglect played a role in the murder. Diyarbakır Bar Association and Tahir Elçi Human Rights Foundation have criticized the indictment in the murder case, saying that the inclusion of an alleged PKK member as a suspect in the case is inconsistent and is an attempt to divert the attention from the real perpetrators.
A HDP lawmaker has submitted two separate parliamentary questions inquiring about the whereabouts of Bahtiyar Fırat who went missing on Oct. 14 amid concerns that he might have been abducted by state agents. MP Sait Dede asked Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulahmit Gül if they will issue a statement with regards to the fate of Fırat considering that 17,000 people have been so far victims of enforced disappearances while under detention in Turkey.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Oct. 20 filed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a U.S. court, accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the journalist's killing.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that President Erdoğan's ideas are even more backward than those of the Middle Ages, adding that Turkey is more backward than a tribe at the moment. Do we have any traditions, constitution or justice left? No. I wish we were a tribe so that we could sit and discuss," Kılıçdaroğlu told his party members during a parliamentary group meeting on Oct. 20.
The İYİ Party is in disarray after deputy Ümit Özdağ claimed that the party's Istanbul chair, Buğra Kavuncu, is a Gülenist. While Kavuncu blasted the allegations and said that he will file a complaint against Özdağ, İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener said that the legal process gives the deputy the opportunity to prove his claims.
Greece has asked the European Commission to consider suspending a customs union agreement between Turkey and the European Union due to Ankara’s “continued provocations." Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said the Commission should consider the full suspension of the customs union “as a message of disapproval for Turkey's ongoing illegal behavior" against the EU.
A man has threatened his wife with two bullets, accusing her of cheating on him just because both her and a male colleague's coronavirus tests came out positive. The abusive husband's threats that lasted for days caused the woman to give early birth.
A summary of proceedings was prepared against CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel for calling Erdoğan "a lame duck" in 2019, when in fact Erdoğan used the same for the CHP a day earlier. Özel said that the prosecutor who accuses him of insulting the president needs to launch an investigation into Erdoğan as well since he used the same phrase against the main opposition.
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.