ANKARA

Amid the ongoing fight against coronavirus, Turkey’s main opposition party on Thursday submitted a bill to elevate the status of the nation’s healthcare workers.

Under the bill submitted by the Republican People’s Party (CHP), healthcare workers who lose their lives would be considered martyrs who lost their lives during a pandemic.

The martyr designation would carry legal benefits for the healthcare workers’ survivors – like the families of martyred soldiers – such as a monthly survivors’ payment.

The bill would be retroactive to March 11, which the first COVID-19 case was officially confirmed in Turkey.

Last month parliament passed a ruling party-sponsored law to strengthen healthcare workers’ protection against violence.

Turkey’s “healthcare army” includes nearly half a million medical staffers and 360,000 support personnel fighting coronavirus, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said early in the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, the country reported a total of 131,744 coronavirus cases, 78,202 of whom have fully recovered. The death toll stands at 3,584.

Since first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 187 countries and regions, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

The pandemic has killed over 264,000 worldwide, with the number of infections more than 3.77 million and recoveries surpassing 1.25 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University of the US.

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