By Erdogan Cagatay Zontur
ANKARA (AA) – Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.
A Turkish court began trying 20 Saudi nationals in absentia for the 2018 killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Kingdom’s Consulate in Istanbul.
A 117-page indictment was prepared by Istanbul prosecutors that accused 20 Saudi nationals of involvement in the gruesome premeditated murder. It was accepted in April by Istanbul’s Heavy Penal Court No. 11.
Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed and dismembered by a group of Saudi operatives shortly after he entered the Saudi Arabian consulate Oct. 2, 2018 in Istanbul where he went to obtain marriage-related documents.
A fireworks factory blast killed four workers and injured 114 others in northwestern Sakarya province.
Turkey registered 1,172 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours and the total number of cases nationwide reached 203,450.
The death toll from the virus rose to 5,186 with 19 new fatalities.
Turkey announced 1,113 more recoveries from the virus in the past 24 hours, bringing the tally to 178,278, according to the country’s health minister.
Health care professionals conducted 52,140 tests for the virus, raising the total count to over 3.5 million.
Hungary included Turkey on a list of safe countries to travel amid the pandemic, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a joint news conference with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said accusations against the Turkey regarding Hagia Sophia directly target its sovereignty and that Ankara will always protect the rights of Muslims and minorities living in the country.
A Turkish court is expected to soon announce its verdict on converting the 6th-century structure to a mosque, which was used as a church for 916 years. In 1453, it was converted into a mosque by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II when the empire conquered Istanbul.
- Global coronavirus developments
The novel coronavirus has claimed more than 523,600 lives in 188 countries and regions since it originated in Wuhan, China last December.
The US, Brazil, Russia and India are currently the worst-hit countries in the world.
Nearly 11 million COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide with recoveries exceeding 5.8 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
Russia confirmed 6,718 infections in the past 24 hours, bringing its overall count to 667,883, according to the country's emergency task force.
Less than 7,000 new cases were reported in Russia for an eighth consecutive day.
The death toll rose by 176 to reach 9,859, while recoveries climbed to 437,893 as 8,915 additional patients were discharged from hospitals.
The number of cases in southeast Asian countries increased to 158,298, including 4,530 fatalities and 90,433 recoveries.
In India, the tally crossed 625,500 with 20,903 new infections and 379 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to official figures. The nation’s cumulative death toll has risen to 18,213.
- Other developments around World
The British government unveiled a list of 59 countries, including Turkey, where Brits can travel to and from without quarantining for two weeks.
They include mostly EU countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Germany, as well Japan, Jamaica, New Zealand and South Korea.
Turkey's National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler met Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj in Libya.
The Libyan prime minister's office said both countries are seeking to improve bilateral relations and military cooperation.
Turkish officials also met with Khalid Al-Mishri, president of the Supreme Council of State, as well as the Defense Security Cooperation and Training Assistance Advisory Command, which was created within the scope of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Turkey and Libya.
Ankara and Tripoli signed two MoUs on Nov. 27, 2019: one on military cooperation and the other on maritime boundaries of countries in the Eastern Mediterranean.