Turkey hits record COVID-19 cases after change in reporting

Turkey hits record COVID-19 cases after change in reporting
Turkey became the country with the third highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases globally on Nov. 25 after changing the way it reports figures. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 November 2020

Turkey hits record COVID-19 cases after change in reporting

Turkey hits record COVID-19 cases after change in reporting
  • Up till Wednesday, Turkey’s asymptomatic cases were not included in the number of daily reported cases
  • Turkish Medical Association estimated the average daily number of non-hospitalized cases to be above 47,000

ANKARA: Turkey became the country with the third highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases globally on Nov. 25 — behind the US and India — after changing the way it reports figures.
Turkish Health Ministry has begun publishing all positive cases, including asymptomatic ones, in its daily count following months-long harsh criticisms from the scientific world, including the World Health Organization, and opposition figures claiming that the measuring method used was hiding the true scale of the outbreak.
Up till Wednesday — since March — Turkey’s asymptomatic cases were not included in the number of daily reported cases.
The country recorded 28,351 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, including 6,814 with symptoms; 168 people had died on Nov. 25 due to COVID-19, raising the death toll to 12,840.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned that the country may need to take “radical measures” as the number of daily COVID-19 deaths has climbed to record levels.
However, Caghan Kizil, a specialist in neuroscience and genetics at Dresden University’s Faculty of Medicine, tweeted: “We have reminded you of your responsibility for months. You did not take it into account. You created this situation by yourself. Being together would be by listening to scientists. Building trust was most important. You failed it, Mr. Koca.”
The government only introduced partial curfews for weekends, and limitations on restaurants and cafes.
However, these measures remain disputed by medical groups and local governors.
Istanbul metropolitan mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, has criticized government efforts that did not curb the pandemic. On the discrepancy in the Ministry of Health’s daily COVID-19 data, he recently announced that “even only in Istanbul the daily death toll is 50-60 higher than the announced national number.”
The officially announced death rates are also controversial, as the ministry announced 168 COVID-linked deaths on Wednesday, while the Istanbul municipality’s cemeteries department recorded 203 deaths alone on the same day due to “infectious diseases.”
The occupancy rates in the intensive care units of hospitals in the three biggest cities of Turkey exceed 70 percent. The number was by far the highest reported by the Turkish government since the beginning of the outbreak.
The Turkish Health Minister announced that about 80 percent of people who tested positive were either asymptomatic or showed slight symptoms — highlighting the importance of including asymptomatic cases in the total tally. 
The Turkish Medical Association, the largest doctors’ group in the country, estimated that the average daily number of non-hospitalized cases was above 47,000. Many provinces in the country are also facing a third peak.
Meanwhile, due to the sharp decline in tourism figures, Turkey’s flagship air carrier Turkish Airlines needs $2.5 billion of bank loans and is seeking state assistance, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Over the first nine months of 2020, the airline recorded a 5.2 billion Turkish lira ($0.66 billion) loss.


Mutual desire between Cairo, Doha to restore ties, says Egyptian foreign minister

Mutual desire between Cairo, Doha to restore ties, says Egyptian foreign minister
Updated 17 June 2021

Mutual desire between Cairo, Doha to restore ties, says Egyptian foreign minister

Mutual desire between Cairo, Doha to restore ties, says Egyptian foreign minister
  • Sameh Shoukry said that during his visit to Doha, he discussed the many issues that had accumulated during the years in which Qatar was boycotted by the Anti-Terror Quartet
  • Shoukry said that many of the issues “were dealt with appropriately” and that both countries affirmed a mutual desire to restore “brotherhood and solidarity relations”

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday that his recent visit to Doha, where he met Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, inspired a mutual desire to restore strong relations between the two countries.

In a press conference in Cairo with Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn, Shoukry said that during his visit to Doha, he discussed the many issues that had accumulated during the years in which Qatar was boycotted by the Anti-Terror Quartet — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

On June 5, 2017, the four nations cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, closing borders and airspace and imposing an economic blockade. The decision was based on “Qatar’s embrace of various terrorist and sectarian groups supported by Iran,” as reported earlier.

Shoukry said that many of the issues “were dealt with appropriately” and that both countries affirmed a mutual desire to restore “brotherhood and solidarity relations.”

“I was honored to meet Qatar’s emir. The meeting was positive,” Shoukry said, adding that the emir expressed keenness to reestablish friendly relations and to take into account and resolve all the issues that had previously complicated ties between the two countries.

Shoukry also referred to the consultative meeting of the Arab League Council in Doha at the request of Egypt and Sudan on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Ethiopia is building on the Nile River.

A decision was made to support the Egyptian-Sudanese position and their water rights. The need for Ethiopia to be more flexible and reach a binding legal agreement on the issue of filling the dam was also addressed.

Shoukry said that Egypt wishes to reach a solution on the issue of the dam through negotiations.

For 10 years, Cairo has been trying to reach an agreement that takes into consideration common property rights in the Nile River, Shoukry said. He stressed that the Ethiopian people have a right to development but must exercise it without harming downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

He said that Cairo’s goal is to show flexibility and provide an opportunity for the “Ethiopian brothers” to improve their standard of living.

“We have not yet sensed a political will from Addis Ababa to sign the agreement that was drafted in Washington … Ethiopia continues to be intransigent and repudiates agreements,” he added.


Cars erupt in flames in Beirut airport carpark, stockpiled petrol likely cause, local media report

Cars erupt in flames in Beirut airport carpark, stockpiled petrol likely cause, local media report
With petrol in short supply, residents have regularly been lined up for hours over the past two weeks to fill their tanks. (Twitter)
Updated 17 June 2021

Cars erupt in flames in Beirut airport carpark, stockpiled petrol likely cause, local media report

Cars erupt in flames in Beirut airport carpark, stockpiled petrol likely cause, local media report
  • The fire is under investigation, but Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces could not be reached for comment.

DUBAI: Thick plumes of black smoke filled the air as a blaze ripped through three cars in the car park of Beirut’s international airport on Thursday.

Initial reports in local media suggested the cause of the fire was due to petrol stored inside one of the vehicles.

It is thought that the fuel was likely stored in several cans being used to stockpile petrol which has recently become a hot commodity in Lebanon, due to shortages.

Reports suggest the fuel somehow ignited and spread to two other cars parked nearby – although Arab News has been unable to independently verify this.

No injuries were reported, an emergency worker stationed at the airport told Arab News.

The fire is under investigation, but Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces could not be reached for comment.

Petrol stations across Lebanon have been running on low supply for weeks as the central bank struggles to meet subsidy needs.

With petrol in short supply, residents have regularly been lined up for hours over the past two weeks to fill their tanks.

Public officials have advised people not to stockpile petrol in take-home containers, which have caused a spike in accidental fires.

Last month, a residential building in a Beirut suburb caught fire after a resident hoarded the attractive commodity. 


Israeli officer charged in killing of autistic Palestinian

Israeli officer charged in killing of autistic Palestinian
Updated 17 June 2021

Israeli officer charged in killing of autistic Palestinian

Israeli officer charged in killing of autistic Palestinian
  • The officer was charged with reckless manslaughter
  • Eyad Hallaq, 32, was fatally shot just inside the Old City’s Lion’s Gate on May 30, 2020

JERUSALEM: Israeli prosecutors on Thursday charged a border police officer with reckless manslaughter in the deadly shooting of an autistic Palestinian man in Jerusalem’s Old City last year.

The indictment came just over a year after the shooting of Eyad Hallaq. Hallaq’s family had previously criticized Israeli authorities' investigation into Eyad's killing, and had called for much tougher charges.

The officer, who remains unidentified in the indictment submitted to the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday, was charged with reckless manslaughter, and if convicted could face up to 12 years in prison.

Hallaq, 32, was fatally shot just inside the Old City’s Lion’s Gate on May 30, 2020, as he was on his way to the special-needs institution that he attended. The officer's commander, who was also present during the incident, was not charged.

The area is a frequent site of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, and the Old City’s narrow streets are lined with hundreds of security cameras that are monitored by police. But as the investigation proceeded last summer, prosecutors claimed that none of the cameras in the area had worked, and there was no footage of the incident.

Prosecutors from the police internal investigations department said in a statement that the decision to charge the officer “was made after deep examination of the evidence, examination of all the circumstances of the incident and the claims heard during the officer’s hearing.” They said Hallaq's death was a “serious and unfortunate incident” and that the officer shot him “while he took an unreasonable risk that he would cause his death.”

According to accounts at the time, Hallaq was shot after running away and failing to heed calls to stop. Two members of Israel’s paramilitary Border Police then chased Hallaq into a garbage room and shot him as he cowered next to a bin.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement in October, when prosecutors recommended charges against the officer, that the wounded Hallaq pointed to a woman he knew and muttered something. The officer then turned to the woman and asked her in Arabic, “Where is the gun?”

She replied, “What gun?” At that point, the officer under investigation fired again at Hallaq.

The woman mentioned in the statement appears to be Hallaq’s teacher, who was with him that morning. At the time of the shooting, she told an Israeli TV station that she had repeatedly called out to police that he was “disabled.”

In the charges filed Thursday, prosecutors described how the accused shot Hallaq in the stomach when he had his back against a wall in a corner, then shot him a second time in the chest while Hallaq was sprawled on the ground injured.

In a statement Thursday, the family’s attorneys called the indictment an “important step,” but said the charge of reckless manslaughter was “not sufficient to achieve even a small part of justice” for Eyad’s death. They criticized prosecutors for what they called “attempts to circumvent the proper legal procedures in order to protect the criminal policeman.”

In cases of attacks against Israeli security forces, police often quickly release security-camera footage to the public. Palestinians and human rights groups say Israel has a poor record of prosecuting cases of police violence against Palestinians.

Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List of Arab parties in Israel’s parliament, responded on Twitter, calling the indictment for reckless manslaughter "an infuriating and denigrating charge.”

Hallaq's shooting drew comparisons to the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and prompted a series of small demonstrations against police violence. The uproar crossed Israeli-Palestinian lines and drew Jewish protesters as well. Israeli leaders expressed regret over the shooting.


Israel keen to establish ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim nations — envoy

Israel keen to establish ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim nations — envoy
Updated 17 June 2021

Israel keen to establish ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim nations — envoy

Israel keen to establish ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim nations — envoy
  • Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei sharply criticized the Israeli attacks on Palestine
  • Israel has embassies in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar, among other countries in Asia

KUALA LUMPUR: Israel is willing to work toward establishing ties with southeast Asia’s Muslim majority nations, its ambassador to Singapore said on Thursday, despite their condemnation in May of Israeli air strikes on Gaza.

The region’s three Muslim-majority states — Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei — sharply criticized the Israeli attacks during 11 days of hostilities in which medics said over 250 Palestinians were killed and 13 people killed in Israel by rockets fired by Hamas and other Islamist militant groups.

Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei had urged the United Nations to step in and stop “the atrocities carried out against the Palestinian people.”

The three countries do not have formal ties with Israel and have repeatedly called for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and for a two-state solution based on borders before the 1967 Middle East war.

Sagi Karni, Israel’s ambassador to Singapore, said the criticism from the three nations’ leaders was “not honest” and ignored “the true nature of the conflict,” which he said was between Israel and Hamas and not the Palestinian people.

“Hamas is an anti-Semitic organization ... I’m not sure that many of the people participating in social media debates truly understand the radical and fascist nature of Hamas,” he told Reuters in a video interview. Hamas rejects accusations of anti-Semitism.

Karni said Israel acknowledged there were civilian casualties during the 11-day hostilities, but that the only way for any party to have meaningful influence over what happens in the Middle East was by establishing relations with Israel.

“We are willing to talk, we are willing to meet, and the door is open as far as we are concerned. I don’t think it’s so difficult to find us,” he said.

Israel has embassies in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar, among other countries in Asia.

Four Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — agreed last year to normalize relations with Israel under US-brokered deals.


Turkey: Attack on pro-Kurdish party offices leaves 1 dead

Turkey: Attack on pro-Kurdish party offices leaves 1 dead
Updated 17 June 2021

Turkey: Attack on pro-Kurdish party offices leaves 1 dead

Turkey: Attack on pro-Kurdish party offices leaves 1 dead
  • The Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, said a gunman entered the building in Izmir province

ISTANBUL: A gunman killed one person Thursday during an attack on the office of a pro-Kurdish party in western Turkey, authorities said..
The Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, said a gunman entered the building in Izmir province, fired shots and attempted to set the office on fire.
The provincial governor’s office said one person was killed. The office said a suspect, a former health worker, was detained. HDP confirmed the shooting victim was a party employee.
The HDP, the second-largest opposition party in Turkey's parliament, has faced a widespread government crackdown, with party members being accused of supporting an outlawed Kurdish militant group.
Thousands of pro-Kurdish activists, along with lawmakers and the party’s former leaders, have been imprisoned.
The HDP, in a statement, accused the Turkish government and the country's interior minister of targeting the party and provoking such attacks.