Turkey opens new pandemic hospital in Istanbul

(Updates with Erdoğan's comments on Istanbul)

Turkey on Sunday opened a second pandemic hospital in Istanbul as part of the country's efforts to battle the deadly coronavirus.

The Murat Dilmener Emergency Hospital, located in the district of Yeşilköy and named after a Turkish doctor who lost his life due to COVID-19, is the megacity’s second emergency hospital opened to fight the pandemic.

The hospitals, built and open for service in only two months, present "an exemplary model,” Hürriyet newspaper quoted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as saying during the opening ceremony on Sunday.

Turkey has been successful in stemming the spread of the virus without the need for the hospitals’ additional capacity, he said.

The Turkish president said the country was making "very serious" progress in health tourism and the hospitals would be used to provide healthcare for those arriving from abroad for diagnoses and treatment.

The opening of the Yeşilköy hospital arrives two days after another pandemic hospital - Dr. Feriha Oz Emergency - was inaugurated on Friday.

Turkey has registered over 163,000 cases and 4,515 deaths linked to the deadly coronavirus since March, when the pandemic first hit the country. 

COVID-19 cases and deaths have dropped in over the past few weeks while recoveries have risen to over 126,000 on Saturday.

Erdoğan on Sunday also attended the inauguration of another Istanbul hospital, the Dr. İsmail Niyazi Kurtulmuş hospital in the district of Hadımköy.

The Turkish president delivered a speech during the ceremony, praising his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government for restoring the historical structures in Istanbul.

“In recent days, certain impertinent people have emerged, defining the conquest as an invasion,’’ T24 news site quoted Erdoğan as saying.

The Turkish president’s statements follow the controversy caused by Health Minister Nursi Ersoy, when he referred to the 1453 conquest of Istanbul as an “invasion’’ during an interview with NTV earlier this month. Ersoy was quick to correct himself to say ‘’conquest’’ during the programme. 

“These [people] are ignorant and uninformed,’’ Erdoğan said. “To conquer is open and win over hearts. They don’t know about this.’’