Government holding coronavirus council hostage, says opposition leader

Turkey’s scientific council tasked with managing the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been taken hostage by the government and is unable to do its job, main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Sunday.

The leader of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) called on the Coronavirus Scientific Council to be brave, and said the party stood behind the health ministry-founded body in a video address he shared on Twitter.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s remarks were made as Turkey’s coronavirus infections soar above 50,000 per day, and the country has reintroduced a series of measures, including curfews, to stem the spread of the deadly virus.

A total of 58 of the 81 provinces are marked as “red” or “very high-risk” zones, including the cultural and economic hub of Istanbul and capital Ankara.

The council has previously voiced concerns over the government’s lack of transparency in sharing data on the pandemic. 

“Our friends there must be a little more brave,’’ Kılıçdaroğlu said. “They must inform the public a bit more.’’

Kılıçdaroğlu said he has met with emergency service doctors and it is clear that the situation in Turkey regarding the pandemic was “grave.’’

Turkey’s overall infection tally is over 3.79 million, while the nationwide death toll has reached 33,702, with 248 fatalities recorded on Saturday. 

“Our Coronavirus Scientific Council has been taken hostage. They are the hostage of one person,’’ Kılıçdaroğlu said in an apparent reference to the president. “They have reached a point where they are unable to do their jobs.’’