Turkey detains 11 over 'coronavirus-themed' house party amid global pandemic

Turkey detains 11 over 'coronavirus-themed' house party amid global pandemic
3 min read
30 March, 2020
More than 80 people attended a coronavirus-themed house party in Turkey's Istanbul, despite precautionary measures and social distancing pleas.
Turkey has imposed precautionary measures to stem the spread of the virus [Getty]
Turkish police have detained 11 people, including the organisers and a DJ, after a weekend coronavirus house party in Istanbul where some guests dressed up as doctors, local officials said.

The party, thrown at a villa in the Buyukcekmece district on Saturday night, was shared live on social media but received criticism for ignoring social distancing pleas.

"These idiots have organised a home party somewhere in Istanbul" one Twitter user posted.

"How come we will stop the spread of the virus despite those idiots!!!" 

Bars and nightclubs have been closed in Turkey by a circular issued by the interior ministry as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Read also: Coronavirus exposes information crisis and digital inequality in the Arab world

Police watched the social media broadcast then detained 11 people including the organiser, M.S. and M.E.C. and a DJ.

They were charged with "disobeying the regulations on infectious diseases", the Istanbul governor's office said in a statement late on Sunday.

The authorities were working to identify other participants, it added.

In the video footage posted, some of those partying could be seen dressed up as emergency doctors with gloves and masks. 

"I drank a lot of alcohol. Everyone was dancing with the music. I regret holding such a party at a time of coronavirus," M.S. told the police in his testimony, the private news agency DHA reported.

Elif K., who broadcast the party live on social media, said around 80 people attended the party. "They were drinking and dancing. I later called a taxi and left."

The DHA said police released seven people after questioning them, but the other four were sent to court. 

Turkey has so far officially recorded 9,217 cases of the new coronavirus while 131 people have died.

Authorities have taken a series of measures to try to slow the spread of the virus, from suspending international flights to shutting schools.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks to stay at home and adapt themselves to "voluntary quarantine" conditions.

Meanwhile, members of an orchestra in Turkey who abided by the laws in place during the ongoing pandemic have refused to let the outbreak get in the way of creativity.

The Istanbul Metropolitan Muncipality Orchestra this week transformed an Italian anti-fascist anthem into a Turkish song urging listeners to stay at home due to the coronavirus threat.

The orchestra replaced the refrain of "Bella Ciao", an Italian protest song that has become an anthem for anti-fascist movement worldwide, with "Evde kal" or "Stay at home".

"Wash your hands, don't go outside," the song starts. "Stay at home, you! Stay at home."

It continues: "For you and for your loved ones, don't forget to stay safe."

"Quiet corona. Don't [test] positive. Stay at home, you! Stay at home. Protection is in your hands."

The orchestra also squeezes in a reference to Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu's electoral slogan, "Everything is going to be alright".

The orchestra members all performed their parts from their own homes, with each part later combined together in a Zoom-style video.

The COVID-19 virus, which was first detected in China's Wuhan in December, has killed more than 34,344 people worldwide, while over 742,444 infections have been confirmed.

The majority of those that infected with corona experience only mild or moderate symptoms, including fever and a dry cough.

As of yet, there are no known treatments for the virus, though more than 157,043 have already recovered from the infection.

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