Doctors accused of terrorism flee Turkey by hundreds

Turkey has seen a total of 7,929 deaths due to COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic was first seen in the country in mid-March, while 702 doctors have petitioned certificates of good standing to be able to work abroad in 2020, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Secretary General Bülent Nazım Yılmaz said in the top medical body’s annual congress on Saturday.

Doctors and the TTB have been targeted by pro-government circles because they have been protesting the lack of transparency in how the Health Ministry has handled the global coronavirus pandemic in the country since March.

Junior government partner and leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli recently called for the TTB to be shuttered over the protests, while pro-government media accused the organisation of terrorism for supporting social justice causes.

“We are sending the equivalent of four graduating classes abroad like it was nothing,” daily Cumhuriyet cited Yılmaz as saying.

For the whole year of 2019, the number of doctors petitioning the certificate was 1,042, according to the secretary.

According to the TTB’s sixth monthly review report issued on Sept. 21, at least 41 doctors have lost their lives due to complications related to COVID-19. The total number of healthcare workers lost to the coronavirus is at least 95.

Throughout the pandemic, doctors have complained that they were not provided with enough personal protective equipment, and were working too long shifts.

Turkey saw 71 new deaths between Friday and Saturday evenings. There are a total of 30,523 active cases in the country.