The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) urged officials from Turkey’s Health Ministry, who they said have failed to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and paved the way for the latest surge in infections, to resign, during an online press conference released on the association’s website on Friday.
“The Health Ministry should admit that it has failed [to manage the pandemic]. All those [in the ministry] responsible for it should resign. The authorities should stop this anti-democratic way of managing the pandemic,” TTB said on Friday as the country reported 29,081 daily cases, just under 2021’s highest level two days earlier.
The group also called on the Turkish government to reverse course and tighten COVID-19 restrictions, as daily infections and deaths in the country have spiked over the past month after Ankara announced a period of a gradual return to normal life.
“A surge of cases in a short period of time shows that Turkey, just like many other countries in Europe, is facing a tsunami. While this tendency to surge continues, we need more serious measures strengthened by public solidarity,” the TTB said, noting that 391 healthcare workers in Turkey have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic just over a year ago.
Although Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Thursday said the pandemic would be under control by late May or June, the TTB insisted that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was unable to manage the pandemic, calling the current conditions in Turkey a “social assassination.”
The group demanded more transparency on daily coronavirus figures and variants detected, vaccine procurement and the criteria used to classify risks by province in addition to calling for resignations at the health ministry.
“Mobility in very busy streets in cities should be decreased. Mass contacts between people in enclosed areas should be limited,” the TTB further said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government attracted widespread criticism this week for holding a convention with thousands of people in a jam-packed indoor sports arena in Ankara in disregard of rules aimed at controlling the coronavirus pandemic.
Footage circulating on social media showed hundreds of people being brought to Ankara from across the nation in packed buses, in violation of social distancing rules, with most of them not even wearing masks.
Since inoculations began on Jan. 14, Turkey has administered 14.6 million shots. While over 8 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine, almost 6.5 million of them have been administered a second dose.
The country expects to receive 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May, Minister Koca announced on Thursday.