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AFP
March 31, 2020

Turkey detains 11 over coronavirus house party

World

AFP
March 31, 2020

ISTANBUL: 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. 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.