Türkİye, Health, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Turkey to transparently continue COVID-19 vaccination

Everyone to be vaccinated through assigned codes, says spokesman for ruling Justice and Development Party

Enes Kaplan, Zehra Aydin Turapoglu   | 15.01.2021
Turkey to transparently continue COVID-19 vaccination ( Mustafa Çiftçi - Anadolu Agency )

ANKARA 

Turkey will transparently carry out a COVID-19 vaccination process by including everyone in the country, the spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party said Thursday. 

“Now the vaccination process has transparently begun,” said Omer Celik following the party's Central Executive Board meeting in the capital Ankara.

This process will continue in a way that everyone will be vaccinated through assigned codes, ensuring that everyone has their own vaccines, he said.

Celik said the vaccination would help get rid of negativities caused by the pandemic and reduce the number of fatalities.

As of Thursday, Turkey had registered a total of 23,495 deaths, over 2.23 million recoveries and more than 2.36 million confirmed cases in the country.

Country-wide vaccination campaign

Earlier Thursday, Turkey started the mass COVID-vaccination campaign with healthcare staff.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca became the first person in the country to receive the Chinese Sinovac vaccine after Turkey's official drug and medical equipment body approved CoronaVac for emergency use against the coronavirus. Following the minister, the members of the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board were vaccinated as well.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also got the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine following the Central Executive Board meeting.

According to data from the Health Ministry, Turkey has 1.1 million health workers who will be vaccinated within a month.

Two doses of the vaccine will be administered 28 days apart. Those who recovered from COVID-19 will not be vaccinated in four to six months following their recovery.

The first batch of 3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine developed from China’s Sinovac Biotech arrived in Turkey on Dec. 30.

Turkey has been implementing curfews on both weeknights and weekends since last month as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Erdogan announced that restrictions will be eased gradually as COVID-19 cases have been significantly decreasing recently.

Since December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 1.99 million lives in 191 countries and regions.

Over 92.8 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now over 51.2 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.

Greece’s violation against asylum seekers

Regarding Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, Celik said: "According to data from the Directorate General of Migration Management, more than 78,000 asylum seekers have been forcibly pushed into Turkish waters in the last three years.”

Emphasizing that Greece should put an end to this attitude, he said the International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency made their warnings on this issue.

“It is a shame that this inhumane action takes place in the territorial waters of a European Union country,” he added.

Turkey has repeatedly condemned Greece’s illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable people, including women and children.

Last November, European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly opened an investigation into EU border agency Frontex following reports that it was supporting Greece to push asylum seekers back to the open sea.

The EU observer had also reported that Greece ordered its coast guard to push asylum seekers to Turkish territorial waters, according to a string of emails exchanged between Frontex and the Greek Coast Guard.

Securing personal data

Regarding WhatsApp’s recent decision, Celik said data sovereignty, the issue with whom our data is shared, is a matter of national sovereignty.

“No one can share the data of citizens of the Republic of Turkey without their consent,” he noted, saying it is clear that this should be subject to legal regulation as it is a human rights issue.

Turkey’s Personal Data Protection Authority on Tuesday launched an investigation into WhatsApp over its new data-sharing rules.

Last week, WhatsApp forced many users to agree to new privacy rules for sharing personal data with Facebook companies. The app could not be used unless the terms were accepted, the authority said in a statement.

The authority suspended the data sharing, even if users accepted the rules, due to the potential for irreparable losses, until the conclusion of the investigation.

In this context, Facebook also must suspend data sharing and announce its move to all users, the statement said.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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