Erdoğan ally urges shutdown of top medical association protesting COVID-19 deaths in sector

The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Devlet Bahçeli, on Wednesday called for the country’s top medical association to be shut down amid a call by the group to protest increasing COVID-19 infections and deaths among healthcare workers.

The junior coalition partner to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for the closure of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) for "enticing citizens with unfounded doubts’’ over the pandemic through week-long protests by healthcare workers and demanded that legal proceedings be brought against its officials.

"This attempt is a toxic and despicable plot,’’ T24 news site quoted the MHP leader as saying. "The Turkish Medical Association must be shut immediately and without delay. Legal proceedings must be launched against its administrators.’’

The TTB has called for participation protests over the alleged government mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic, after numbers of cases spiked again with medics being among those most affected.

Some 30,000 healthcare professionals have contracted COVID-19 since March 11, when Turkey announced its first official case, according to data shared by the Ankara Chamber of Medicine (ATO) on Tuesday. A total of 92 doctors, nurses, medical technicians and other hospital staff in Turkey have died after contracting the deadly virus at work, the ATO said.

The protests, set to take place from Sept.14 - 18 include wearing black ribbons, putting up posters and black ribbons in hospitals and pharmacies as well as marches in city centres.

The TTB has said the protests were an effort to remind the country’s officials of the historical responsibility on "those who lay the blame on citizens while placing the burden on healthcare workers.’’

Meanwhile, Turkey confirmed on Wednesday 1,771 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with 63 deaths linked to the deadly virus, bringing the country’s death toll to 7,249.

The total number of confirmed cases in the country has reached  296,391, of which  1,351 are in critical condition, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said, adding that 1,342 patients recovered over the last 24 hours.