Turkish President Erdogan Declares Area in or Around Two Airports, Including Atatürk, Will Be Makeshift Hospitals with 1,000 Beds Amid COVID-19

Turkish President Erdoğan announced that areas in or around two airports in Istanbul will be converted into hospitals amid COVID-19, with free masks available to all citizens.
Brad Bergan

Turkish President Erdoğan has declared that makeshift hospitals will go up inside the Atatürk Airport and also near the Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul in 45 days, according to Agence France Presse. The temporary hospitals will hold 1,000 coronavirus patients each.


Erdoğan orders airports convert to hospitals amid COVID-19

Both hospitals will have a capacity of 1,000 beds and will be located in Istanbul, the country's epicenter of coronavirus cases. As of writing, Turkey has recorded 649 deaths from COVID-19, with 30,217 total cases, according to official figures released on Monday.

Last week, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said more than half of the COVID-19 cases were registered in the country's economic capital and largest city, Istanbul.

Erdoğan added that Turkey has mobilized everything it has to fight the coronavirus threat, and assured there existed no problems in Turkish hospitals with either diagnosing or treating the disease.

"We will complete them [the two hospitals] within 45 days and will open them to public service," said Erdoğan, in a televised speech.

One of the hospitals will be constructed in the area near the city's former international airport used to be (on the European side), while the other single-floor hospital at Sancaktepe on the Asian side of the historic city.

Turkey has suspended all international flights as part of its intensive measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, in addition to banning mass prayers and gatherings. It has also suspended schools.

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"With the measures we have taken, and the additional ones, we will overcome this pandemic together with Europe and the world," said the Turkish leader.

Erdoğan bans sale of masks, promises free for all

Erdoğan also said that a ban was imposed on the sale of medical masks — supplementing this boundary by subsidizing the cost and distributing them for free to Turkish citizens, reports Middle East Eye.

"The masks distributed in grocery stores are free of charge," he said. "We have enough stocks and production planned for our citizens until the pandemic ends. We are determined to deliver free masks to our citizens."

This comes amid a spike in confirmed coronavirus deaths and cases in cities across the world, especially in New York City, which itself already has more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than all of Germany. As nations of the world work to fight this unprecedented outbreak, we can expect more public arenas and spaces to see repurposing and adaptation, in service to our common goal of defeating the COVID-19 disease.

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