An opposition leader has hit out at Turkey’s Erdogan administration for opting not to bring in a nationwide lockdown in the face of a resurgent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that she said “looks out of control”.
Meral Aksener, leader of the national conservative Iyi Party and a former interior minister, said new measures announced by the government to address the virus crisis in Turkey were insufficient. “I am calling to the ruling party from here: the pandemic looks out of control. The picture in Istanbul is a total catastrophe,” she said in remarks to her party’s lawmakers in parliament, Reuters reported.
Aksener urged a 14-day nationwide lockdown, reiterating a call by Istanbul’s mayor—Ekrem Imamoglu of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)—who earlier this week said coronavirus deaths in the commercial and cultural capital alone outstripped reported nationwide figures. The extent of Turkey’s coronavirus outbreak is unknown because ministers refuse to disclose asymptomatic cases. Istanbul reported 9,872 pandemic-related deaths as of November 14 compared to the national government’s reported 11,418, Aksener noted.
“There is something off with this because there is no transparency, no honesty,” Aksener also remarked.
In bringing in new measures such as weekend curfews to stem the spread of the virus, the government on November 19 urged people to strictly follow all pandemic regulations, new and old. Online schooling and limits on restaurants and cafes will begin from the evening of November 20 and last through year-end to help contain the pandemic, officials said.
Even the government’s official coronavirus data points to the intensifying of the outbreak with a surge in reported daily cases and deaths taking the figures to levels last seen in late April, just after the initial peak.
“Without losing anything, the virus has gone into the mass infection period,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in parliament. “It seems we must put our lives under tight discipline for some time,” broadcasters quoted him as saying.