Turkey raids medical mask factories, threatens to seize them

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has accused some protective mask producers of stockpiling their products for profit after the coronavirus pandemic spread to Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The minister said security forces had raided mask producers to deal with the stockpiling producers, who have been warned that the government could take over their factories.

“Turkey doesn’t know it, but we’ve been busy for the last two days,” Soylu said during a live streamed interview on social media. “I won’t say which, but some mask producers have taken their masks and stockpiled them in warehouses … Yesterday (Sunday) morning at 8 a.m. we raided every producer in Turkey at the same time.”

The producers had been invited to sign contracts with the Health Ministry and produce masks for a fair price, or in a matter of hours the government would commandeer their factories, Soylu said.

Turkey called for citizens to practice social distancing after the number of known cases in the country rose to hundreds last week. On Saturday, the government announced a full curfew for people over 65.

Some 165,000 business places have been closed due to the virus, and the Interior Ministry has also closed hairdressers and beauty salons, Soylu said.