Turkey identifies 1,693 new symptomatic cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours - ministry

People wear protective face masks due to coronavirus concerns in Turkey. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 October 2020

Turkey identifies 1,693 new symptomatic cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours - ministry

  • The total number of patients increased to 324,143 as of Thursday
  • Doctors and politicians had expressed concern that cases in the country were underreported for months

ISTANBUL: Turkey identified 1,693 new symptomatic cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed on Thursday, as Ankara continues to only report the number of those who show symptoms.
The total number of patients increased to 324,143 as of Thursday, while the death toll increased by 66 to 9,080.
An interview in the Hurriyet daily over the weekend with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca led to speculation that Ankara may start announcing the number of all those who test positive for the novel coronavirus.
A clarification issued by the columnist on Monday explained that Koca's comments that Ankara would share all positive cases referred only to cross-sectional studies that are conducted.
Koca said last month that Turkey had only been reporting symptomatic coronavirus cases, after doctors and politicians had expressed concern that cases in the country were underreported for months.
After Koca's announcement, the WHO called for the reporting of COVID-19 data in line with WHO guidelines in order to harmonise data collection and response measures.
Turkey had been isolating all positive cases regardless of symptoms, the WHO said.
Turkey's top medical association and the main opposition party criticised the government's decision to only disclose the number of symptomatic patients.
President Tayyip Erdogan urged Turkey's parliament on Wednesday to legislate to curb the influence of medical associations and other institutions that have criticised his government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.


German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

Updated 24 November 2020

German defense minister rejects Turkey complaint over Libya weapons ship search

  • Germany insists it acted correctly in boarding a Turkish ship to enforce arms embargo of Libya
  • Turkey summoned European diplomats to complain at the operation

BERLIN: Germany’s defense minister on Tuesday rejected Turkey’s complaints over the search of a Turkish freighter in the Mediterranean Sea by a German frigate participating in a European mission, insisting that German sailors acted correctly.
Sunday’s incident prompted Turkey to summon diplomats representing the European Union, Germany and Italy and assert that the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A was subjected to an “illegal” search by personnel from the German frigate Hamburg. The German ship is part of the European Union’s Irini naval mission, which is enforcing an arms embargo against Libya.
German officials say that the order to board the ship came from Irini’s headquarters in Rome and that Turkey protested while the team was on board. The search was then ended.
Turkey says the search was “unauthorized and conducted by force.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer backed the German crew’s actions.
“It is important to me to make really clear that the Bundeswehr soldiers behaved completely correctly,” she said during an appearance in Berlin. “They did what is asked of them in the framework of the European Irini mandate.”
“That there is this debate with the Turkish side points to one of the fundamental problems of this European mission,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added, without elaborating. “But it is very important to me to say clearly here that there are no grounds for these accusations that are now being made against the soldiers.”
This was the second incident between Turkey and naval forces from a NATO ally enforcing an arms blockade against Libya.
In June, NATO launched an investigation over an incident between Turkish warships and a French naval vessel in the Mediterranean, after France said one of its frigates was “lit up” three times by Turkish naval targeting radar when it tried to approach a Turkish civilian ship suspected of involvement in arms trafficking.
Turkey supports a UN-backed government in Tripoli against rival forces based in the country’s east. It has complained that the EU naval operation focuses its efforts too much on the Tripoli administration and turns a blind eye to weapons sent to the eastern-based forces.
In Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Irini was “flawed from the onset.”
“It is not based on firm international legal foundations,” Akar said. He renewed Turkey’s criticism of the German ship’s actions.
“The incident was against international laws and practices. It was wrong,” he said.
Kramp-Karrenbauer stressed that “Turkey is still an important partner for us in NATO.” Turkey being outside the military alliance would make the situation even more difficult, she argued, and Turkish soldiers are “absolutely reliable partners” in NATO missions.
But she conceded that Turkey poses “a big challenge” because of how its domestic politics have developed and because it has its “own agenda, which is difficult to reconcile with European questions in particular.”