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Coronavirus: Turkey sends planeload of emergency supplies to UK as death toll nears 10,000

NHS has about 10,000 ventilators, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock says 18,000 will be needed to ensure capacity, with peak of virus not expected for days
British and Turkish air force personnel unload personal protection equipment from Turkish aircraft after it arrived at RAF Brize Norton on Friday (AFP)

Turkey has donated a plane full of emergency equipment to the UK, as the country’s coronavirus death toll rose to almost 10,000.

A jet from Ankara carrying personal protective items, including surgical masks, N95 industrial masks and hazmat suits landed in London on Friday afternoon, the Guardian reported.

The equipment arrived in boxes that read: “After hopelessness, there is so much hope and after darkness, there is the much brighter sun,” words of 13th century Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi.

The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Turkey rose by 5,138 in the last 24 hours and 95 more people have died, taking the nationwide death toll from the pandemic to 1,101, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Saturday. Turkey's total confirmed cases stood at 52,167, Reuters reported.

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UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab thanked Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu over the phone, saying the supplies were an “indication of strong friendship between the two countries”, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

The German army said it was donating 60 ventilators to the NHS, as the UK health-care system races to get hold of enough life-saving equipment in the run-up to the expected peak of Covid-19.

The NHS has about 10,000 ventilators, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said 18,000 will be needed to ensure capacity, with the peak of the virus not expected for days, the Guardian said.

The latest death toll from the coronavirus in the UK has risen by 917 to 9,875 people, health officials said on Saturday. The Department of Health also said 78,991 had tested positive for the virus as of Saturday, according to Reuters.

Britain has asked the US for 200 ventilators to fight the pandemic, according to Donald Trump. The president told reporters on Wednesday: “The UK called today and they wanted to know would it be possible to get 200. We’re going to work it out, we’ve got to work it out.”

In related developments, the head of the British Medical Association called on the government to urgently investigate if and why black, Asian and minority ethnic people may be more vulnerable to Covid-19.

Those first 10 doctors in the UK identified as having died in the pandemic have ancestries in regions including Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the Guardian said.

Middle East Eye reported last month on tributes paid to three Muslim medical workers who had died in the fight against coronavirus in the UK.

Also, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was making "very good progress" in his recovery from Covid-19, his office said on Saturday.

Johnson was moved out of intensive care after three nights on Thursday and Downing Street said on Friday he had managed to start walking, although his recovery was at an early stage.