UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF TURKISH PRESIDENT
By Mehmet Tosun and Zafer Fatih Beyaz
ANKARA (AA) – Even as most developed countries face shortages, Turkey is receiving COVID-19 vaccines rapidly and progressing with its public vaccination drive, the nation’s president said on Tuesday.
Turkey has managed to leave behind with minimal trouble a period in which even the most prosperous countries faced heartbreaking scenes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in remarks in the capital Ankara.
*** "Thanks to the steps we have taken on the [COVID-19] vaccine and the payments we made, we have started to get our vaccines quickly, and hopefully, 50 million doses of vaccine will come to our country in the first phase," he said, adding that this year's budget for social support expenditures is more than 81 billion Turkish liras (over $11 billion).
Speaking at a ceremony where young people and the disabled were given government jobs, Erdogan said Turkey has filled up to 82% of its disability employment quota in the public sector.
From just 5,777 in 2002 – when the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power – "we boosted the number of disabled civil servants to 58,319,” he added.
*** In years past, said Erdogan, “our disabled brothers and sisters were made to live isolated from society, within the walls of their homes. After coming to the power, one of the issues that we focused on and followed closely is the activities of reintegrating our disabled people into society."
*** Erdogan also stressed that when the AK Party came to power, the number of relatives of martyred soldiers and military veterans employed in the public sector was 6,315, but now it has jumped to nearly 45,000.
*** In 2005 Turkey passed a law on disabled people and later became a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The government is proving support for disabled people who need help to maintain their daily life, Erdogan said.
*** "We provide in-patient care services to approximately 29,000 disabled people in 541 official and private centers," he explained.
On Monday, 6.5 million doses of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine arrived in Turkey, in the second shipment of a total 10 million doses.
Mass vaccinations began in Turkey on Jan. 14 after the first batch arrived on Dec. 30.
To boost public confidence in the vaccine, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were among the first to be vaccinated.
The government last year introduced nighttime and weekend curfews to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Since December 2019, the pandemic has claimed more than 2 million lives in 192 countries and regions.
Over 99 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries now over 55 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.
The US, India and Brazil remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.
*Writing by Seda Sevencan and Jeyhun Aliyev