Coronavirus World Live Tracker: Turkey Releases Prisoners

Coronavirus World Live Tracker: Turkey Releases Prisoners

Turkey’s Parliament passes law to release tens of thousands of prisoners.

Turkey’s Parliament passed a law early Tuesday that would allow for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners to protect detainees from being infected by the coronavirus.

The bill will allow for the temporary release of about 45,000 prisoners, but it excluded those jailed on terrorism charges, according to the Anadolu Agency, a Turkish state-run news agency.

The bill was supported by 279 lawmakers, while 51 voted against it, according to Anadolu. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s political party, the Justice and Development Party, supported the bill, as did its nationalist allies.

Aside from those jailed on terrorism charges, prisoners detained for sex offenses, drug offenses and first-degree murder were also excluded.

The law has been criticized by opposition parties for excluding those jailed on terrorism charges, which include journalists and politicians swept up in a crackdown following a coup attempt in 2016.

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul on Monday said there were 17 cases of the coronavirus in five prisons, and that three inmates had died from the virus. Turkey has recorded 56,956 coronavirus cases and 1,198 deaths.

In the United States and around the world, outbreaks have spread quickly in prisons, where social distancing is impossible. In response, some prisons have released inmates to contain outbreaks, though critics say officials have been too slow to act.

Earlier this month, Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the Bureau of Prisons to expand the group of federal inmates eligible for early release and to prioritize those at three facilities where known coronavirus cases have grown precipitously, as the virus threatens to overwhelm prison medical facilities and nearby hospitals.

In Iraq, the fight against coronavirus means overcoming stigma.

The doctor paused before banging on the front gate, gesturing to his companions in hazmat suits and masks to stand back so they would not be the first thing the home’s occupants saw.

“This is very sensitive, very difficult for our society,” said Dr. Wissam Cona of the provincial Health Department in Najaf, Iraq. The father of the family at this home had begged him not to come with a retinue of health workers, saying he felt ashamed in front of his neighbors.

For Iraq, one of the biggest obstacles for officials fighting the coronavirus is the stigma associated with illness and quarantine. It runs so deep that people avoid being tested, prevent family members who want tests from having them and delay seeking medical help until they are catastrophically ill.

It may also help explain why the number of confirmed cases in Iraq is relatively low. Iraq had recorded only 1,352 confirmed Covid-19 cases as of Monday. Iran, with roughly twice Iraq’s population, has more than 71,000.

“It is true we have cases that are hidden, and that is because people don’t want to come forward and they are afraid of the quarantine and isolation,” said Dr. Hazim al-Jumaili, a deputy health minister.

The stigma attached to illness and quarantine in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries largely reflects cultural and religious beliefs. But it also involves an ingrained distrust of the government, historical experience and the fear that given the ragged state of Iraq’s health care system, going to the hospital could be fatal.

“Some believe the virus means that God is displeased with them, or maybe it is a punishment for a sin so they don’t want others to see that they are sick,” said Dr. Emad Abdul Razzak, a consulting psychiatrist at Iraq’s Health Ministry.

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept the globe, it has been accompanied by a dangerous surge of false information — an “infodemic,” according to the World Health Organization. Analysts say that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has played a principal role in the spread of false information as part of his wider effort to discredit the West and destroy his enemies from within.

The House, the Senate and the nation’s intelligence agencies have typically focused on election meddling in their examinations of Mr. Putin’s long campaign. But the repercussions are wider. An investigation by The New York Times — involving scores of interviews as well as a review of scholarly papers, news reports, and Russian documents, tweets and TV shows — found that Mr. Putin has spread misinformation on issues of personal health for more than a decade.

His agents have repeatedly planted and spread the idea that viral epidemics — including flu outbreaks, Ebola and now the coronavirus — were sown by American scientists. The disinformers have also sought to undermine faith in the safety of vaccines, a triumph of public health that Mr. Putin himself promotes at home.

Moscow’s aim, experts say, is to portray American officials as playing down the health alarms and thus posing serious threats to public safety.

At first, Mr. Putin’s main disseminator of fake news was Russia Today, which he founded in 2005 in Moscow; in 2008 it was renamed RT, obscuring its Russian origins. As the Kremlin grew more confident, it began to simply recycle old narratives rather than wait for new epidemics to emerge.

The new brand of disinformation is subtler than the old. Darren L. Linvill, a Clemson University expert, and his colleague Patrick L. Warren have argued that Mr. Putin’s new methodology seeks less to create than to curate — to retweet and amplify the existing American cacophony, raising the level of confusion and partisan discord.

Beijing now appears to be borrowing from Mr. Putin’s playbook, at least the early drafts. It recently declared that the coronavirus was devised by Washington as a designer weapon meant to cripple China.

Hospitals in coronavirus hot spots in the United States are scrambling to address a shortage of medical professionals to help care for patients, as the number of cases continues to grow and as maintaining a full supply of health care workers, who are themselves falling ill, is challenging.

Foreign health workers have been lining up to take jobs at American hospitals, but many are running into roadblocks. Some are having difficulty securing appointments for visas at U.S. consulates overseas that are hobbled by skeletal staffing. Others are running into travel restrictions imposed in the midst of the pandemic.

Still others are already working in the United States, but under the terms of their visas cannot leave the states they are in to work in cities heavily affected by the coronavirus.

“The protective gear and ventilators are slowly but surely getting to the system. But if the number of cases goes up dramatically, we will have equipment and no one to operate it,” said Ron Hoppe, chief executive officer of WorldWide HealthStaff Solutions, which matches medical professionals with facilities across the United States.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, demand for registered nurses in the United States was projected to grow from 2.9 to 3.4 million between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The great supply and demand imbalance that existed before is being laid bare by the crisis,” Mr. Hoppe said.

More than 100 million children could be at risk for measles because countries around the world are suspending national immunization programs in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, international public health leaders warned on Monday.

So far, 24 low- and middle-income countries, including Mexico, Nigeria and Cambodia, have paused or postponed such programs, according to the Measles and Rubella Initiative, a consortium whose members include UNICEF, the American Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unlike wealthier countries, where parents typically make appointments to follow a routine vaccine schedule at clinics or private pediatric offices, these countries inoculate large numbers of infants and children in communal settings, like marketplaces, schools, churches and mosques.

Dr. Robin Nandy, the chief of immunization for UNICEF, acknowledged that finding the balance between guarding against the spread of Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and preventable diseases like measles was delicate and difficult.

Sebastian Modak, Alissa J. Rubin, William J. Broad, Miriam Jordan, Annie Correal, Ben Dooley and Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.


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