COVID-19 deaths triple in Izmir after earthquake – Governor

COVID-19 cases in Turkey’s western Izmir province have tripled since the 6.9 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 30, as well as deaths due to the coronavirus, Izmir Governor Yavuz Selim Köşger told reporters on Friday.

With the earthquake, which killed 116 people and injured 1,033, “all citizens, including coronavirus-positive ones and their contacts, went out to the streets and they all mixed together,” Köşger said.

The province was among Turkey’s best in handling the pandemic due to high compliance with the rules before disaster struck, the governor said, adding that local and national authorities had taken additional measures to counteract the surge.

On top of national measures, Izmir will also implement a curfew for the elderly, as announced in a governorate statement on Thursday.

The Urbanism Ministry has completed infrastructure works for 550 temporary residences, and the shipping container dwellings are expected to be ready for use by the weekend, the governorate said in a statement on Friday.

Friday also saw Turkish Engineers and Architects Chambers Union’s (TMMOB) Izmir chapter holding a press conference against the lifting the forest status of some 3.75 square kilometres of land for the construction of permanent housing for survivors.

The area is on a riverbed, and the only thing keeping occasional floods at bay is the trees planted on the plots, daily Evrensel cited TMMOB Izmir as saying. “Attempts to mend the wounds of one calamity will pave the way for another,” the professional organisation said.

Izmir Mayor Tunç Soyer on Wednesday had said the ministry had provided a solution to some of the people whose homes had collapsed or suffered great damage, but the rest were left to shoulder the cost of new housing on their own.

The municipality is working to amend the legislation that allows people to continue to live in medium-to-low damage buildings if the buildings are fortified, but did not offer them any support for fortification, the mayor said.

Earlier in the week, opposition deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel said there had been 164 COVID-19 deaths in Istanbul, 38 in Ankara and 50 in Izmir on Nov. 17, while the same day saw Turkish authorities announcing 103 deaths nationwide.

Governor Köşger on Friday said Adıgüzel’s figures were incorrect, and that Izmir had been doing well, although it wasn’t among the top 10 provinces anymore.