By Mucahit Turetken
ISTANBUL (AA) – Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said Friday they will convert public spaces in the metropolis to field and temporary hospitals to fight the threat of coronavirus if the need arises.
Those spaces will include the Yenikapi and Maltepe rally areas, the Gurpinar seafood market and 19 indoor sports halls.
Addressing a news conference, he said the provincial government was in contact with the higher ups and coordinating efforts in 39 district municipalities.
The mayor said to ensure a smooth supply of food and hygiene items meetings were held with all retail chain managers who assured them of their full cooperation.
Health workers who are leading the fight against the pandemic will be provided accommodation at hotels at walking distance from their hospitals, he said.
In this regard, we have spoken to the managers of 600 hotels, he added.
"We have to protect the families of our healthcare workers. […] We have reached the principle agreement to ensure that our healthcare professionals stay in hotels outside their homes and within walking distance of the hospitals they work in.”
Imamoglu said that to assist senior citizens, who are under strict orders to stay at home, a helpline has been established.
Volunteers drop off medicines and food items at their doorstep after they call the helpline.
Besides, he said they have built a kitchen to serve three meals a day to 5,000 staff at the Istanbul Assistance and Coordination Center.
He urged people in Istanbul to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus.
The mayor requested the central government to delay debt payments of their municipalities in the wake of the health crisis.
“The decision not to take the deduction in the amount transferred is not enough. I demand to the central government officials that our municipalities need an absolute, additional transfer, financial support. The debts of the municipalities such as taxes and insurance should be postponed.”
Imamoglu suggested that Ataturk Airport, which is located centrally, be transformed into a temporary hospital to combat coronavirus.
Turkey has reported 92 deaths from coronavirus, and confirmed more than 5,600 cases.
*Writing by Ibrahim Sulun