tests
Adverts offering COVID-19 testing that yields results in three hours have been circulating Turkish capital Ankara as the city observed a spike in daily diagnoses and deaths. Meanwhile, legitimate laboratories say that no such test exists.
The recent resignation of two officials from Turkey's Health Ministry has raised questions as to whether they are related to the approval and purchase of a COVID-19 test that was said to identify only 40 percent of positive cases. "The ministry has not responded to any of their questions on this topic," said main opposition CHP deputy Murat Emir.
Felicity Party (Saadet) deputy Abdulkadir Karaduman said on July 20 that he was admitted to the hospital for COVID-19. The deputy marks the fifth infection among Turkey's lawmakers.
Turkey's Presidency mandated that everyone who will attend the July 15, 2016 coup attempt memorial ceremony be tested for COVID-19. One politician noted that none of the deputies are tested for general sessions and that the precaution is required for being in the president's presence.
A new testing center in Istanbul Airport will offer all passengers COVID-19 tests for 110 Turkish Liras each (about $16). The center's capacity is an hourly 2,000.
Muhammet Emin Akbaşoğlu, the group deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is the fourth Turkish lawmaker whose coronavirus test came back positive. Last week, the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) had announced that three of its deputies tested positive for the virus, without disclosing the identities of the MPs.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that young men getting drafted for military service would receive COVID-19 tests. The minister added that depending on their test results, 182,000 young men would become eligible for deployment.
Sinem Sönmez writes: It’s the combination of a lockdown and mass testing that is most effective in controlling the spread of the coronavirus and flattening of the curve. If Turkey follows the footsteps of Germany and South Korea by carrying out mass COVID-19 testing to isolate the carriers of this virus, there would be no need to build new hospitals to accommodate new COVID-19 patients.
Some 39 percent of health workers in Turkey haven't been tested for COVID-19, a union report revealed. Less than ten percent of hospitals conducted testing to scan workers, while only two percent conduct routine testing.
Two health workers in Izmir conducted COVID-19 tests to citizens on the street in a district they were sent to for work, reportedly without the orders or permission of the Izmir Health Directorate. The two rogue workers tested some 100 people.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) has said that the official coronavirus case numbers in Turkey are "just the tip of the iceberg." It said that sick people whose clinical symptoms and CT scans are suggestive of COVID-19 should be considered as coronavirus patients "until proven otherwise" with repeat tests.
To what extent the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests produced locally in Turkey are reliable has become a major topic of curiosity following the death of retired general Aytaç Yalman. Yalman had tested negative for coronavirus only to subsequently test positive for it. According to doctor Kurt Azap, negative results also have to be confirmed for their accuracy.
İrfan Aktan writes: Emrah Altındiş, an Assistant Professor at Boston College and an adjunct faculty at Harvard Medical School, warns that a “tsunami” is headed towards Turkey. Altındiş argues that Turkey was not taking the necessary precautions to slow its spread. According to Altındiş, the cities with high numbers of infected people should be on lockdown.
Gökçe Başbuğ writes: That the coronavirus first became an epidemic in East Asia gave other countries time to prepare. However, it is clear that this time was not used wisely. Unfortunately, while travel bans and city quarantines were imposed, aggressive testing methods were not developed, and the public was not informed in a transparent manner. Fortunately, it is still possible for countries like Turkey that are at the beginning of this process to learn lessons from South Korea's experience and take steps accordingly.
The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Sinan Adıyaman, has said that the association has been receiving unconfirmed information that the number of coronavirus patients in Turkey is much higher than 18. He also called on the Heath Ministry to increase the number of health centers performing coronavirus tests.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
Former Zaman daily columnist Mümtazer Türköne has been released from jail following Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for his retrial. Türköne's lawyer Figen Çalıkuşu has said she believes the release came after the Court of Cassation overturned the sentence following an appeal.
Turkey will not make any concessions over its claims in the eastern Mediterranean, said a statement issued following the country's National Security Council (MGK) meeting. “It has been once again emphasized that Turkey will not make a concession with regards to its rights and interests on land, sea or in the air, as has been the case up until today,” the statement read.
A group of lawyers close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have submitted their application to the Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) to form a second bar association in Istanbul. The group has collected just over 2,000 signatures required to establish their own association as per a new legislation which was passed by Turkish parliament in July of this year.
The trial into the murder of a 12-year-old girl shot dead on Oct. 12, 2015 in Diyarbakır during a curfew, has been put on hold following the Interior Ministry's refusal to grant permission for the prosecution of the police officer in question.
The Ankara Medical Chamber has said that the number of healthcare staff who have contracted the COVID-19 in the city has increased by 61 in the last eight days, reaching to a total of 943.
The Turkish government is reportedly planning to hand prison sentences between two months and a year to those violating quarantine rules based on an article of the Turkish Penal Code, which regulates behavior in violation of the measures against contagious diseases. The country on Sept. 23 announced the death toll as 72 - its highest since the beginning of May.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) police teams on Sept. 24 demolished some restaurants and cafes on Heybeliada on the grounds that they were unlicensed. Café owners slammed the İBB's move saying that they had already paid an "occupancy fee" to the local management to use the lands in question.
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said that former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş will carry the indictments into him as medals, as he commented on a recent visit by a chief public prosecutor to the presidential palace. "We know that there are prosecutors lined up in front of Erdoğan," the CHP leader said.
Construction on Turkey's first nuclear power plant is ongoing amid reports of unpaid wages, the general manager said on Sept. 23. While management said it was contract companies that were lagging behind on payments, they launched an investigation into the wages nonetheless.
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield has said debts owed by Turkish government hospitals to American pharmaceutical companies had risen to around $2.3 billion, warning that there will be consequences for non-payment of debt or reductions in payment. "Companies will consider departing the Turkish market or will reduce exposure to Turkish market. This is not a direction which serves the interests of Turkey," he said on Sept. 23.
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.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cautioned Turkey against further deployment of equipment from Chinese telecoms giant Huawei on its soil, saying it would complicate the military cooperation between the two NATO allies. The U.S. believes Huawei Technologies’ apparatus could be used for espionage.
CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel has asked the government to reveal who received millions of dollars of bribe from shady Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab. "It's said that $80 million of this money was given to a single politician. Will the Financial Crime Investigation Board, Turkish Treasury, Court of Accounts and other auditors be mobilized?" Özel asked.
Turkey on Sept. 23 recorded more than 70 daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since May. Seventy two people died over the past 24 hours due to the COVID-19 in Turkey, while 1,767 new cases were diagnosed, according to the daily figures the Health Ministry announced on a COVID-19 dedicated website on Sept. 23.
A women's company in the western province of Uşak work to protect an art they inherited from their mothers, the endangered technique of weaving that produces "Turkish rugs," as they are known globally. Represented in Renaissance paintings, the Uşak rugs were once a symbol of wealth and prestige.
Turkish prosecutors have demanded up to 10 years in jail for Müyesser Yıldız, the Ankara news editor for the OdaTV online news portal, and İsmail Dükel, Ankara representative of broadcaster TELE1, on charges of revealing state secrets. Yıldız is facing charges with regards to her two articles about Ankara's military involvement in Libya, whereas it remains yet unclear for which broadcast(s) Dükel is accused of defying the National Intelligence Law.
Two men who were detained in Van's Çatak and who were taken to a hospital by soldiers were thrown from a military helicopter, hospital records have confirmed. According to the records, Osman Şiban and Servet Turgut were brought to the hospital for "getting injured after falling from a helicopter." Van Governor's Office, meanwhile, denied the incident, saying that Turgut "fell in a rocky area when trying to escape from soldiers."
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.
In a not-so-veiled message to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, Constitutional Court President Zühtü Arslan has said that although the top court is open to criticism of its decisions, remarks which focus on judges and "go beyond criticism will not bring any benefit.” Arslan's comments came after he was targeted by Soylu over the top court's decision to permit inter-city demonstrations and marches.
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.