ANKARA: Gen. Aytac Yalman, the former commander of the Turkish land forces, died of coronavirus at a hospital in Istanbul.
The medical reason of his death was confirmed by authorities despite initially being ignored by the Turkish government.
The late general’s wife is in intensive care with the virus. Her husband had previously been sent home after initially responding well to treatment.
Yalman died aged 80 on March 16, but the cause of death was first reported as pneumonia.
According to the latest official figures released by the Turkish Health Ministry, three people have now died of the virus, with 191 further cases.
Yalman retired from the Turkish Armed Forces in 2004 and held various key posts in the army. He also led a military delegation responsible for maintaining Turkey-Syria security relations under the 1998 Adana Agreement, which was signed by Turkey’s then-President Suleyman Demirel and Syria’s then-President Hafez Assad.
Yalman visited Iran three weeks before his death and was possibly infected during his stay there.
Elsewhere, a female Turkish doctor in a state-run university hospital was recorded in secret footage stating there were thousands of coronavirus cases in Turkey, in contrast to numbers cited by officials.
In the video, which made headlines on March 18, the doctor added that Istanbul and Ankara were in a terrible condition.
Prof. Alpay Azap, a member of the Turkish Health Ministry’s Science Council, said in a tweet on March 18 that Turkey had lost its chance to be like Singapore, and needed to focus on not turning into Italy.
“Turkey has reached the critical case threshold of 100. Seeing that we conduct a small amount of tests, and that only 20 percent of patients come to hospitals and get diagnosed, we may very well have moved to the critical threshold days ago,” he said.