Anadolu Agency is here with a rundown of the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic and other news in Turkey and around the world.
Hagia Sophia opens for prayer
On Friday, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree, which turned Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a museum, and this move paved the way to use it again as a mosque after 85 years.
The court ruled that the architectural gem was owned by a foundation established by Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, and presented to the community as a mosque — a status that cannot be legally changed.
After completing all preparations, Turkey will open Hagia Sophia for worship on July 24 for Friday prayers, the Turkish president said on Friday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivered his remarks in an address to the nation explaining the new status of Hagia Sophia — which was used as a museum over the past eight decades. But will now serve as a mosque following a court verdict on Friday.
The Turkish president said Hagia Sophia will continue to embrace everyone with its new status as a mosque in a more sincere way.
Related to this, Turkey meets its responsibilities in line with UNESCO World Heritage Agreement, said Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran.
“There is no obstacle to change the function of a world heritage site in the World Heritage Agreement,” he said while quoting the 1972 World Heritage Agreement.
The families of newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide are preparing to bury their loved ones, 25 years after they were gunned down by Serb forces.
Nine newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide will be buried this year in the village of Potocari, northwest of Srebrenica, on Saturday to mark the genocide’s 25th anniversary.
Turkey and the UK are “very close” to signing a free trade agreement for the post-Brexit era, according to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
An article published in the Financial Times quoted Cavusoglu as saying negotiations between the two countries on a trade deal covering manufactured goods, agriculture, and services are “going very well and we are close to finalizing it”.
Cavusoglu visited London on Wednesday to hold talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Coronavirus in Turkey
A total of 1,493 people recovered from the novel coronavirus in Turkey, bringing the total recoveries to 191,883, said the country’s health minister on Friday.
Turkey saw 1,003 new cases of COVID-19 over the past 24-hours, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 210,965, said the data.
The country’s death toll from the virus rose to 5,323, with 23 new fatalities reported in the last 24 hours.
Healthcare professionals conducted a total of 48,787 tests for the disease over the past day, raising the overall count to over 3.88 million.
Coronavirus outbreak across the world
Two World Health Organization (WHO) experts are heading to China to interact with scientists there to study the transmission of COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic from animals to humans, the global health body chief said on Friday.
Addressing a webinar, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the global health experts will also prepare a scientific plan with their Chinese counterparts to identify the zoonotic source of the COVID-19 virus.
Southeast Asia: The total number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asian countries has reached 183,764 as of Friday, including 5,043 fatalities and 100,891 recoveries.
Italy: Italy on Friday reported 12 more fatalities from the novel coronavirus, bringing the country’s death toll to 34,938.
Spain: The Spanish Health Ministry reported 852 more COVID-19 infections on Friday – the highest daily jump since the lockdown ended last month.
The number of infections diagnosed in the last week – 2,944 – also hit the highest number since May 29.
UK: The UK has opted out of the European Union’s coronavirus vaccine scheme, local media reported on Friday.
The EU’s €2 billion scheme is set to purchase vaccines in advance and test them on behalf of its member states.
Iran: Iran on Friday confirmed 142 more fatalities caused by the novel coronavirus, bringing the nationwide death toll to 12,447.
India: As COVID-19 rings alarm bells in India with nearly 80,000 confirmed cases, health experts in the country say the focus should be on saving elderly people who suffer from comorbidities, or more than one health condition at the same time.
Pakistan: Pakistan’s two most populous provinces account for more than 75% of the country’s COVID-19 cases and over 72% of its virus-related fatalities, according to official data released on Friday.
The South Asian country’s overall case count increased to 243,599, with 2,751 infections recorded over the past 24 hours, while the death toll rose by 75 to reach 5,058, the Health Ministry reported.
Japan: Japan on Friday announced record-high numbers of the novel coronavirus cases in its capital Tokyo bringing total infections to over 7,000 in the metropolis, local media reported.
Other developments around the world
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched a solar power plant intending to stop reliance on imports from neighbors China and Pakistan
The 750-megawatt power plant in the central state of Madhya Pradesh is being dubbed as the largest in Asia by local media.
Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the Libyan conflict in a video conference with the country’s Security Council on Friday.
Polls in Poland appear a close call as two candidates, Duda and Trzaskowski, are reported to have almost fifty-fifty chance of victory. The second round of the presidential election is scheduled for July 12.
In the first round on June 28, incumbent President Andrzej Duda secured 43.5% of the votes while his opponent Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski got 30.5% of votes.
China on Friday said it would take reciprocal measures against the US for sanctioning a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party and three other officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang, home to ethnic Uighurs.
At least 35 Iran-backed terrorists fighting in the ranks of the Assad regime were reported killed on Saturday in an airstrike in Deir ez-Zor province in eastern Syria.
Unidentified warplanes targeted a military convoy of Iran-backed foreign terrorists in Deir ez-Zor province, Albukamal region along the Iraqi border, according to local sources.
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