Turkey's top medical association calls for resignations amid COVID-19 spike

Turkey’s top medical association on Friday called on health ministry officials to resign over what they called an inability to manage the coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in infections and deaths.

The health ministry should admit it has failed in managing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said in a press conference, which arrives as the country is registering a doubling of infections and deaths linked to the deadly virus over the past few weeks.

The call from the TTB arrives as the country is reporting its highest cases since the beginning of the year. Turkey on Friday registered 29,081 new cases over the past 24 hours, up from around 7,400 last month.

Meanwhile the death count rose to 153, almost double the figure a month ago, according to health ministry data.

“All of those responsible for the failure of the health ministry to handle the pandemic should resign,“ the TTB said, while “the anti-democratic management of the pandemic should end.’’

Turkey’s surge in cases over a short period of time shows that the country is facing a “tsunami,“ the TTB said, calling for “increased measures bolstered by public solidarity.’’

The association called for increased transparency on official pandemic data on the virus and its variants, as well as decreased traffic on busy streets and further limitations on maximum persons allowed in public indoor spaces.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday announced that the country was aiming to complete its vaccination drive by June at the latest.

“Our hope is for this issue to be over with by May or June so that we can enter summer in a more peaceful fashion,’’ Yeni Şafak newspaper cited Erdoğan as saying. 

Turkey launched a COVID-19 vaccination campaign on Jan. 14 and has administered over 14.65 million vaccine shots, according to official figures.

Erdoğan said that Turkey had yet to receive 50 million of the 100 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine from China - the only jab available in the country - and he would be following the matter with Chinese officials.