Turkey’s coronavirus death toll climbs to 44 with 343 new cases - live blog

The Turkish health minister confirmed on Tuesday seven more deaths due to the novel coronavirus and announced 343 new cases, raising the total number of cases in the country to 1,872.

The total number of people who have succumbed to COVID-19 in the country now totals 44, Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

“One [of the victims] had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and six of them were very elderly,’’ the minister said in his daily Twitter update on the pandemic.

Eearlier on Tuesday, Koca said Turkey was starting mass production of respirator devices and will appoint 32,000 new healthcare personnel to tackle the spread of the novel virus.

The Health Ministry has tested more than 24,000 people, but this number may quickly rise after the arrival of 50,000 quick diagnostic kits from China on Monday. A further 300,000 are expected to arrive on Thursday, Koca said.

The Interior Ministry also bolstered its measures to enforce social distancing by restricting the number of customers who could enter shops to one person per seven square metres and limiting supermarket business hours to between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. All public transport vehicles will operate at half capacity, the ministry said.

Turkey had already halted incoming flights from dozens of countries and closed a wide range of non-essential businesses and venues, and announced a curfew on elderly and vulnerable citizens over the weekend, though it has refrained from enforcing a full lockdown.

(All times Turkish time GMT+3)

22:50 - Turkey's minimum wage workers to receive $1 billion in gov't support 

Turkey’s Ministry of Family and Social Policies is set to provide approximately 7 billion liras ($1.08 billion) in aid to the country’s minimum wage workers during the coronavirus pandemic, minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk announced on Twitter.

The move was approved in a regulation passed during a Parliamentary plenary session on Tuesday, Selçuk said.

22:35 - Passenger, trade flow to be temporarily suspended at Turkey-Iran border gate

Passenger entry and exit from a Iran-Turkey border crossing will be temporarily halted from midnight Wednesday, Karar newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The Van governor’s office said in a statement that the coronavirus pandemic in Iran had reached an uncontrollable level and that passenger and trade operations at the Kapıköy border gate had come to a complete halt.

“Given the increasing import and export operations at Kapikoy Railway Border Gate, the personnel working at Kapikoy Land Border Gate will be more efficient and contribute more to our international trade, as a temporary measure to ensure the more effective employment of personnel and health care workers in all units,” the statement said.

21:45 - More Turks fear unemployment than pandemic

A higher percentage of people in Turkey fear becoming unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic more than contracting the COVID-19, according to a study by StratejiCo. and ERA polling companies.

A total of 68 percent fear either themselves or someone in their family becoming unemployed during the outbreak, while 63 percent said they feared the novel virus itself, Dünya newspaper reported.

Of those surveyed, 79 percent said they did not have enough information about the deadly virus.

21:32 - Ankara mayor slashes price of intercity bus tickets from capital by half 

The mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavaş, has announced that ticket prices for intercity bus travel from the Turkish capital would be decreased by 50 percent in a bid to support a regulation for reduced passenger numbers during the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of leading coach companies came out in support of Yavaş’s announcement on Twitter, saying they would like to provide regional foods to those aged 65 and over in the Turkish capital.

20:10 - Bursa police seize nearly 100,000 medical masks

Turkish authorities in the northwestern province of Bursa confiscated nearly 100,000 medical masks found to have been illegally produced, Karar newspaper reported on Tuesday.

A joint probe by Bursa’s anti-smuggling and organised crime department and the provincial health directorate into the sales of inferior-quality masks flooding the market led police to a chemical material production facility in the city’s central Yıldırım district, it said.

19: 51 - Footballer says comments on Erdoğan, Coronavirus misunderstood

Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera has said comments he made during a recent interview on Turkish President placing religion ahead of the deadly pandemic were misunderstood.

“As someone who is very religious, it is out of question for me to make negative statements about religion,’’ Muslera said on Instagram.


Herkese Merhaba... Dünya olarak zor günlerden geçtiğimiz bu dönemde, sosyal medyada gördüğüm kadarıyla yaptığım bir ropörtajda kullandığım sözlerim tamamen yanlış anlaşılmış. Dinine çok bağlı bir insan olarak dinle ilgili olumsuz bir yorum yapmam söz konusu olamaz... Dünya olarak Korku ve Şüphe dolu bir dönemden geçiyoruz. 9 yıldır Türkiye’de yaşıyorum ve hayatımı bu güzel ülkede kazanıyorum ve burayı hep 2. ülkem gibi görüyorum. Cumhurbaşkanı Sn. Erdoğan’ın, hükümetin, sağlık bakanının ve bütün sağlık personelinin özverili çalışmasını her geçen gün ekranlardan ve sosyal medyadan takip ediyoruz. Sağlık konusu spordan, futboldan ve herşeyden daha önemli ve değerlidir. Bütün kalbim ve dualarım sizlerle... Sabırlı olalım ve evde kalalım... Sizleri çok seviyorum #evdekal

A post shared by Fernando Muslera (@muslera) on


“The president thought he could deal with [the pandemic] through prayers. He caused things to become more complicated,” Muslera was quoted as saying in an interview with Sport 890 news site.

19:00 - Education Ministry launches investigation into remote learning programme video

Officials with Turkey’s Ministry of Education have launched an investigation into a video featured on state TV on Monday, the first day of the country’s remote learning programme during the coronavirus pandemic.

An animation of the 1961 hanging of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes during a remote learning session for middle school children on TRT Eba TV channel was met with public outrage.

The investigation has begun on the orders of Education Minister Ziya Selçuk, Diken news site said.

17: 15 - Veteran football coach diagnosed with COVID-19 doing well 

Fatih Terim, the Galatasaray Football Club manager who was diagnosed with coronavirus on Monday, is doing well save a “light cough,’' officials at the hospital where he remains in care said.

"Fatih Terim, whose clinical findings have been good, has no complaints other than a light cough," news site T24 quoted the officials as saying.

Fatih Terim
Fatih Terim, AP

17:30 – TEB to give three months’ grace for credit repayments

The Turkish Economy Bank, or TEB, is offering to support individual and corporate clients by suspending their credit and interest repayments for up to three months, Yeni Şafak reported.

The bank will also suspend charges for money transfers between March 25 and April 30.

17: 05 - Legal proceedings started against 390 for violating curfew

Turkish authorities have launched legal proceedings against 390 people for violating a curfew imposed on those 65 years of age and over, Artı Gerçek news site reported.

Those who violate the curfew, which came into effect on Sunday, receive a fine, media said, though a jail term, ranging from two months to one year, could also be imposed.

17:00 – Chinese COVID-19 drug distributed to 40 Turkish cities

A Chinese drug that Turkey imported to treat coronavirus patients has been distributed for use in 40 cities, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said.

“The drugs arrived in Ankara last night and were distributed to 40 cities by ambulance,” he said. “The new medicine will be used to treat COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.”

Koca said on Monday that Turkey was using a Chinese drug to treat people stricken by the virus. He did not reveal the drug’s name, but the anti-malarial drug chloroquine has been recently used to treat the virus in China, and has been pinpointed as a potentially effective treatment by U.S. President Donald Trump.

16:30 – 44 pct of Turkey’s health workers have no training on pandemic - survey

Fourty-four percent of Turkey’s health workers have not received any training on how to deal with the deadly coronavirus, according to a new survey conducted by the Turkish Medical Association (TTB).

Seventy-four percent of healthcare workers are experiencing difficulty in obtaining protective goggles, 71 percent in finding bodysuits and 60 percent access to medical masks, news site T24 reported citing the survey. 

Another 48 percent said no triage unit had been set up in their institution for COVID-19, news site T24 reported.

16:25 – Detention for man who mocked elder in viral video

Turkish authorities have detained a youth who caused an uproar on social media by uploading a video of himself mocking an elderly man who had stepped outside despite a curfew, Diken news site reported.

“This time I won’t write you a fine,” the young Turkish man told the visibly upset 80-year-old man in the video.

16:00 - Gov’t working with institutions battling pandemic, says Erdoğan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the government was closely following the work of all organisations in the battle against the deadly coronavirus and continued to take coordinated steps.

The newly implemented distance education programme will help develop the technology for a very different academic system in the future, Erdoğan said in a teleconference with cabinet members he shared on Twitter.

15:10 - Use of public transport falls by 80 percent in big cities

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said the use of public transport fell by 80 percent in 15 big cities after the authorities advised people to reduce mobility, T24 reported.

13:40 - Turkish business body promises one million masks for anti-coronavirus efforts

Ismail Gülle, the head of the Turkish Exporters' Assembly, said the body would donate one million masks and 100,000 litres of disinfectants to the country's Health Ministry as part of efforts to contain the COVID-19 spread, Anadolu news agency reported.

Turkish businesses are also stepping up their production capacity, and planning to make 1 million masks a day, Gülle said.

12:30 - Turkey leads world in new coronavirus infection rate – Oxford University report

The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey has on average doubled every two days since the 100th case was reported, a faster pace than infections have grown during the same phase in other countries around the world, according to a report by Oxford University's Our World in Data.


12:05 – Seventy quarantined in Turkey because of patient who hid foreign travel

Turkish authorities have quarantined 70 people who came into contact with a coronavirus patient who did not reveal a visit to France and later died of the illness, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported.

The 62-year-old finally tested positive for the virus after being taken to hospital with a high fever, but by that time the patient had infected two people and put at least 70 others at risk by refusing to follow guidance to self-isolate for 14 days after returning home from abroad, the newspaper said.

12:00 – Chinese association donates 10,000 medical masks to Istanbul district

A Turkey-based Chinese association has donated 10,000 medical masks to the Istanbul district municipality of Maltepe, Xinhuanet reported.

The China Peaceful Unification Association delivered the masks to the Maltepe Municipality as a display of solidarity with Turkey’s fight against the coronavirus, the report said.

11:55 – Turkey sends 26,000 test kits to Columbia

Turkey is providing Columbia with 26,000 kits to test for the coronavirus, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Columbia’s National Institute of Food and Monitoring as saying on Tuesday.

The kits arrived in Columbia, which has recorded 277 coronavirus diagnoses and three deaths, on Sunday.

23:35 - Turkey announces seven new COVID-19 deaths,  293 new cases

In the 3,672 new coronavirus tests administered in the last 24 hours, Turkey has diagnosed 293 new cases of the COVID-19, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced late on Monday, bringing the total diagnosed cases in the country to 1,529.

Seven people have lost their lives in the same period, Koca said.

A total of 37 people in Turkey have died of the global pandemic to date.

23:03 - Turkish Airlines dismisses reports on suspension of payments to suppliers

Turkish Airlines has dismissed reports that it is unable to pay suppliers due to an economic downturn over the coronavirus pandemic, T24 reported.

"Reports that we have stopped all of our payments in no way reflect reality," the news site quoted the airline as saying in a statement it issued on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to support the national flag carrier Turkish Airlines, which has been hard hit by travel restrictions brought on by COVID-19.

22:20 - Turkey's leading football coach tests positive for coronavirus

Fatih Terim, the 66-year-old football coach who led Turkey’s national team for years, announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

“I am in the hospital in good hands. Don’t worry,” Terim said.

22:10 - Coronavirus pandemic has spread ‘throughout Turkey,’ says health minister

Turkey's coronavirus cases are not localised in a particular region, but have rather spread throughout the country, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters on Monday.

The number of cases, now above 1,200, will further increase, as testing will be more widespread, the minister said.