surgical masks
Izmir-born Fancy Women’s Bike Ride moves online this year, but continues to advocate clean transport and “women’s natural right to cycle and do whatever she pleases.”
A Turkish professor noted that the faulty use of masks could lead to a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. Noting that many people fail to cover their nose and mouth with their mask, the doctor said that a potential second wave could arrive in the second half of June.
The provincial health boards in 10 Turkish cities mandated that citizens wear masks if they want to go outside. Meanwhile, three other provinces mandated masks in crowded public places.
Turkey's quality control authority released a memo outlining criteria for non-medical masks, which were modeled after the Republic of South Africa. The memo noted that both woven and non-woven fabrics could be used, and offered measurements for three different sized masks.
Turkey has started animal trials for a COVID-19 vaccine prototype, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said. Two other vaccine studies have qualified for animal trials, the minister added.
Surgical masks will now be mandatory on Istanbul's central Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue that leads to it, and a three-meters distance will be required between pedestrians. The district governor's office also said that the violation of both measures will be penalized by monetary fines.
Turkey's Trade Ministry announced a price ceiling of one Turkish Lira for surgical masks for when sale of the commodity begins after monthlong government efforts to distribute it for free. The price ceiling will be in effect starting May 8, when the goods will be on sale in Istanbul.
Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş from the main opposition CHP is more successful in managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis than President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a poll carried out by Metropoll which aimed to reveal people's perceptions on governance during the pandemic. Yavaş ranked third in the list, surpassing Erdoğan, who came in fourth.
After one month of distributing free surgical masks and an embargo on mask sales, Turkish government has announced that the sale of the protective equipment would be allowed again. The decision comes after a month of inconsistent policies on whether surgical masks would be distributed for free, how they would be delivered to citizens, and issues that emerged in every method that was implemented.
Turkey's pharmacies will no longer distribute free masks to public servants or to anyone insured by social security, as governor's offices will be taking over the task. The regulation comes in an attempt to alleviate the workload of pharmacists who have distributed nearly 100,000,000 masks during the COVID-19 outbreak in Turkey.
A member of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) warned that misinformation about the use of surgical masks could create increased risk of spreading COVID-19. Prof. Dr. Özlem Kurt Azap noted that surgical masks should not be used more than once, can not be disinfected and should be disposed of properly.
Turkish citizens have been struggling to pick up their free surgical masks in pharmacies if they're not in their registered "place of residence." The Health Ministry has been indicating particular cities for citizens to pick up their free masks, but many are dislocated due to the travel bans established to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Turkey's Health Ministry is too slow to distribute surgical masks, leaving citizens desperate as the protective equipment is mandatory in public spaces during the COVID-19 outbreak, the head of the Turkish Pharmacists' Association said. People have even tried to grab masks off pharmacists' faces because they need them," Erdoğan Çolak added.
The Turkish Pharmacists’ Association (TEB) urged citizens to avoid trying to pick up their free surgical masks at the pharmacy before receiving a text from the Health Ministry. Citizens will need a unique code they will receive from the Health Ministry to pick up their free masks, TEB Chair Erdoğan Çolak noted.
The Turkish Post (PTT) website crashed April 5 following an overwhelming number of applications for free surgical masks, which became mandatory in public places April 3. Applications for the free service will be taken on the government’s online services website, PTT noted after the online application site crashed.
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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
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
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.