Jan 18, 2021 9:16 am Ibrar Younas 4133
Extra mortuary cabinets have been placed at the Shaklewell Lane mosque, north London, following the spike of Turkish Cypriot deaths related to Covid-19


Taken from this week's issue



DEATHS of Turkish Cypriots in the UK linked to Covid-19 have reached “unprecedented levels” and extra mortuary cabinets have been brought in to the main Turkish Cypriot-owned mosque in London to cope with situation.

TRNC London Consul Buket Kop told this newspaper yesterday that 79 members of the Turkish Cypriot community in London had died since the start of November to Thursday after catching the coronavirus. 

This has brought the total number of UK-based Turkish Cypriot death since the start of the pandemic to 172.

“Since the start of the second wave of the pandemic, there has been a surge in the number of Turkish Cypriot people who are unfortunately passing away,” Ms Buket said.

Erkin Güney, chair of Shacklewell Lane Mosque in Dalston, east London, said the number of Covid-19 deaths among Turkish Cypriots was “the worst it has ever been since the start of the pandemic”. 

“We currently have 35 [bodies] waiting to be buried,” he said. “We are receiving between four and six bodies a day.

“There is a belief that the surge in the number of deaths is due to the new [coronavirus] strain and the fact that people are still not taking this issue seriously. . . We have been advised by the authorities that this is just the start, that there will be another stronger wave in April. 

“We have got to mask up and maintain social distancing and observe good hygiene. Otherwise the consequences will be catastrophic. Do not wait until it’s too late.

“We know of a man who has died and whose wife, who is in intensive care, is still unaware of her husband’s death and that he has been repatriated [to Cyprus].”

Mr Güney said that the latest deaths among Turkish Cypriots included two adults aged 25 and 38 who had no underlying health conditions.

“The second wave has many more cases, it has come sharply, sharply,” he said. “There is a real challenge to cope with storing and burying [the dead].

“The situation is very bad. The mortuaries of the Homerton, North Middlesex and Whittington hospitals in London are full. We have brought in additional external mortuary cabinets.”

Ertuğrul Mehmet, head of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (UK) said: “In the last two weeks, the number of Covid-19 cases in the Turkish Cypriot community in the UK has shot up.

“This is causing devastation to families who have lost their loved ones, and concern to those who have contracted the virus and who are either isolating at home or being treated in hospital.

“We call upon our community, especially our youth, to wear masks, refrain from going out unless absolutely necessary, and maintain social distancing of at least two metres and good hygiene. We are going through an incredibly difficult period as a community.” 

President Ersin Tatar said in a written statement yesterday that he was “very sorry” at the loss of life of among the UK-based Turkish Cypriot community and “wished their families patience during these difficult times and good health to those who are ill because of the virus”.