Coronavirus: Turkey medics blame government for health worker deaths

Turkey’s top medical association on Wednesday accused the government of failing to protect health workers after 24 died of the coronavirus this month.

Close to 3,500 medical professionals have also been infected with the virus in Turkey, or about 3.6 percent of the country’s total cases.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB), which represents 80 percent of the country’s physicians, blamed the deaths and infections on a lack of action from Ankara.

It accused the government of “not taking the necessary precautions on time and effectively” and “failing to provide personal protective equipment on time”.

At the beginning of April, some 600 medical workers were confirmed to be infected, according to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

The numbers of infected health staff spiraled this month as cases mounted across the country, with many patients flooding Turkey’s hospitals.

Among the 24 health professionals who have died this month, 14 were doctors.

People wearing a facemask for protective measures wait to cross the street as the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus continues in Ankara. (AFP)

People wearing a facemask for protective measures wait to cross the street as the spread of the COVID-19, the novel coronavirus continues in Ankara. (AFP)

Physicians in Turkey have for years been the target of attacks, some from aggrieved members of the public angry over quality of care or complaints over access to medicine or services.

Officials said attacks had decreased during the coronavirus crisis and last week parliament passed a law doubling the punishment for threatening, insulting or physically assaulting health workers.

Turkey has so far officially recorded 95,591 infections and 2,259 deaths from the coronavirus outbreak.

Most cases have been reported in the country’s most populous city of Istanbul and the TTB said the city was also where the majority of infected health workers were.

The government shut schools, universities and public spaces to halt the spread of the virus but has not imposed a total lockdown like many countries across Europe.

Instead, all-day weekend lockdowns have been rolled out in 31 cities across the country.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week’s shut-in orders will start early on Thursday, which is a public holiday, and last until midnight Sunday.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:57 - GMT 06:57
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