HATAY, Turkey

A lawmaker of Turkey’s ruling party announced Tuesday that he tested positive for the new coronavirus.

In a written statement, Huseyin Sanverdi, a deputy of Justice and Development (AK) Party from the southern Hatay province, said he is under care in the state hospital for COVID-19.

“Thank God, I do not feel the severe symptoms of the virus that will negatively affect my health,” said Sanverdi.

Sanverdi was among the people who attended the reopening of Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia as a mosque last week.

He denied allegations that the rules to wear protective mask and social distancing were not followed.

“Everyone accepted into the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque tested negative for COVID-19. The implementation of the measures was at the highest level,” he added.

On July 24, Friday prayers in the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque marked the first acts of worship there in 86 years.

Some 350,000 Muslims took part in Friday prayers on July 24 both inside and outside the historical mosque in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.

On July 10, a Turkish court annulled a 1934 Cabinet decree that turned Hagia Sophia into a museum, paving the way for its use as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 — nearly 500 years — and most recently as a museum for 86 years.

In 1985, during its time as a museum, Hagia Sophia was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Besides being a mosque, Hagia Sophia is also among Turkey’s top tourism destinations and will remain open for domestic and foreign visitors.

*Writing by Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

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