Turkey detains 11 over coronavirus house party

Turkish authorities have taken a series of measures to try to slow the spread of the virus, from suspending international flights to shutting schools. (AFP)
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Updated 30 March 2020

Turkey detains 11 over coronavirus house party

  • The party was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas
  • Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the party

ISTANBUL: Turkish police have detained 11 people, including the organizers and a DJ, after a weekend coronavirus house party in Istanbul where some guests dressed up as doctors, local officials said.
The party, thrown at a villa in the Buyukcekmece district Saturday night, was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas.
“These idiots have organized a home party somewhere in Istanbul” one Twitter user posted.
“How come we will stop the spread of the virus despite those idiots!!!”
Bars and nightclubs have been closed in Turkey by a circular issued by the interior ministry as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Police watched the social media broadcast then detained 11 people including the organizer, M.S. and M.E.C. and a DJ.
They were charged with “disobeying the regulations on infectious diseases,” the Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement late Sunday.
The authorities were working to identify other participants, it added.
In the video footage posted, some of those partying could be seen dressed up as emergency doctors with gloves and masks.
“I drank a lot of alcohol. Everyone was dancing with the music. I regret holding such a party at a time of coronavirus,” M.S. told the police in his testimony, the private news agency DHA reported.
Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the party. “They were drinking and dancing. I later called a taxi and left.”
The DHA said police released seven people after questioning them, but the other four were sent to court.
Turkey has so far officially recorded 9,217 cases of the new coronavirus while 131 people have died.
Authorities have taken a series of measures to try to slow the spread of the virus, from suspending international flights to shutting schools.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to stay at home and adapt themselves to “voluntary quarantine” conditions.


I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

Updated 52 min 34 sec ago

I won’t quit: Lebanese PM defiant as his critics blast financial chaos

  • University president and UN human rights chief join condemnation of ‘incompetent’ government

BEIRUT: Beleaguered Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Saturday defied a barrage of criticism to declare that his government alone ruled Lebanon and it was determined to implement reforms to resolve the financial crisis.

Diab dismissed as “fake news” reports that he was on the verge of resignation, and said: “Lebanon will not be under anyone’s control as long as I am in power.”

The prime minister spoke after UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet warned that Lebanon was enduring “the worst economic crisis in its history” and was “fast spiraling out of control.” 

She urged Diab’s government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to “the people’s essential needs, such as food, electricity, health, and education.”

Diab also faced harsh criticism from the American University of Beirut (AUB), where he was vice president and a professor before becoming prime minister.

BACKGROUND

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet urged the Lebanese government to initiate urgent reforms and respond to ‘the people’s essential needs, such as food, health and education.’

AUB president Fadlo Khuri said Diab’s government was the worst in Lebanon’s history in its understanding of higher education.

“I have not seen any shred of competence in this government since its formation six months ago,” said.

“The government owes the AUB $150 million in medical bills,” Khuri said, and he urged Diab to “at least discuss with us a payment timeline.”

Lebanon’s financial plight is illustrated by its currency, the lira, which has lost 80 percent of its value. 

The black market  dollar exchange rate on Saturday was 7,500, compared with the official rate of 1,507.

Bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund were suspended in a dispute over government debt, but Diab insisted on Saturday: “We have turned the page … and started discussing the basic reforms required and the program that the IMF and Lebanon will agree upon, which will restore confidence and open the door to many projects.”