Turkish police charge four over coronavirus house party

Some of those in attendance dressed up as doctors for the pandemic-themed event

Istanbul residents walk along a quiet street in the city after Turkish authorities urged people to avoid socialising during the outbreak. EPA
Istanbul residents walk along a quiet street in the city after Turkish authorities urged people to avoid socialising during the outbreak. EPA

Four people in Turkey have been charged with disobeying regulations on infectious diseases after a coronavirus house party in Istanbul at which some guests dressed as doctors.

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

“These idiots have organised a home party somewhere in Istanbul”, one Twitter user posted. “Those idiots” would make it difficult to stop the spread of the virus, the person said.

Turkey’s Ministry of Interior has closed bars and nightclubs to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Police watched the social media broadcast before detaining 11 people.

Four of them, including the party’s organisers and DJ, were charged with “disobeying the regulations on infectious diseases”, the Istanbul governor’s office said on Sunday.

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

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

“Everyone was dancing with the music. I regret holding such a party at a time of coronavirus,” one of the organisers, referred to as MS, told police, the private news agency DHA reported.

Elif K, who broadcast the party live on social media, said about 80 people attended.

“They were drinking and dancing. I later called a taxi and left.”

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

Turkey has so far recorded more than 10,800 cases of coronavirus and more than 160 deaths.

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 to “voluntary quarantine” conditions.

Updated: March 31, 2020 03:12 PM

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