As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Turkey was around 2,000, with about 30,000 tests carried out and 44 deaths from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
It can be noted that the number of cases and the number of deaths do not increase in parallel.
These are the statistics. But to gain a complete picture of the COVID-19 response in Turkey, one must examine the political and everyday life in the country.
Turkey has only recently been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The state’s emergency experience, resulting from its battle against successive natural disasters, has been instrumental in this positive outcome. The government also quickly clarified its road map, without succumbing to panic. Its measures were immediately put in place and preparations started. Recently built, modern city hospitals have also significantly boosted bed capacity in the country.
Moreover, the state's organized attitude has prevented panic among people.
So much so, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca is now one of the most popular characters in the country, despite the heavy burden he bears. Koca frequently shares up-to-date information with the public on social media and television. His frank and sympathetic attitude is highly appreciated.
For now, there is no state of panic or pile-ups in hospitals.
People come out on their balconies at 9 p.m. each evening and clap in support of health care workers. Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and first lady Emine Erdoğan joined one of these shows of appreciation.
In the meantime, issues that were high on the political and public agenda before the coronavirus outbreak, such as Syrian refugees and relations with Russia, have slipped through the cracks.
The everyday life of Turkish people is as limited as anyone else's around the world due to the virus.
The only topic on television and social media is celebrities who tested positive for coronavirus. One of the biggest Turkish names that have tested positive for COVID-19 has been Fatih Terim, the coach of Galatasaray, one of the biggest football teams in the country. Most of the programs on television feature medical doctors discussing the pandemic.
Schools are temporarily closed. Students attend classes broadcast on TV and the internet from home.
There is no curfew for citizens under 65. Public areas are empty, however, as there is a strong reaction on social media against those who take to the streets for non-essential activities.
Venues where people come together in groups, like restaurants, are closed. Many businesses rescheduled work hours, while others have started having employees work from home.
The government announced a TL 100 billion ($15.4) economic support plan, and put off execution proceedings and debt follow-up in the country, somewhat relieving people's minds as to the economic fallout of the outbreak.
Fights and long queues in supermarkets, which have been seen in many countries, have not yet occurred in Turkey. Sales of cologne, a scented hand disinfectant used widely in Turkey, have boomed. The percentage of Turkish people who wash their hands after using the toilet, 94%, is second in the world only to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Like in most other countries around the world, masks have begun being sold on the black market in Turkey.
The Directorate of Religious Affairs banned mass worship activities. In the majority Muslim country, people now pray from home, not in mosques.
This is a picture of life around Turkey in the days of the novel coronavirus.
We are keeping a close watch on developments in hard-hit China, Italy, Iran, the U.K. and the U.S., as well as in African countries where water is scarce, and in Syria, where children are extremely vulnerable after a decade of civil war.
We are looking forward to good news as we know that we cannot feel comforted until everyone around the world is safe.
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