We are facing a global pandemic that reminds us that we share the same planet and have a common fate no matter our ethnicity or religion.
It seems that the number of coronavirus infections in Turkey is lower in comparison with the developed countries of the world such as the U.S., the U.K., Germany and France. When we look at the leading reasons that the number of COVID-19 cases in Turkey is still only around 200, we see the importance of early measures and a well-established health system.
Turkey installed thermal camera systems at airports in February, weeks before countries in the European Union. Since Istanbul Airport is an international hub, the most stringent measures have been taken there. The identity and contact information of everyone from abroad has been taken and passengers on flights have been briefed.
Over the last week, tens of thousands of people returning from the Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia and recent incoming passengers from countries where flights have been suspended have been quarantined in various dormitories and hospitals. Also, land borders with Iran have been closed. Schools have been suspended for two weeks and universities for three weeks. Moreover, the number of cases confirmed when these measures began to be taken was 49, and all but two of them came from abroad. Currently, the number of cases in Turkey is 191, and the death toll from the virus is two people, both over the age of 60.
Turkey prepared its own diagnostic test kits after the gene distribution of the virus was shared. There is currently no shortage of test kits. The articles identified in the national fight against the epidemic report prepared by the Presidency in 2019 are being applied one by one. The district health care centers are individually calling citizens they are responsible for and receiving information and warning them about the disease.
When we compare this to the U.K. and Germany, where the virus has spread the fastest, we find that they have been unfortunately slow and late in each measure. The U.K. will face harder days as it has implemented a “herd immunity” strategy with no measures to reduce the late spread of the disease. While “herd immunity” is a strategy that includes conditions that will allow controlled and slow spread of the disease, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, unfortunately, followed an extremely “liberal” method of “let them travel, let them get sick.” Indeed, they are now trying to correct the strategy by acknowledging the failure of it. But we will see the detrimental effects in a month.
Turkey's well-established and developed health care system has also strengthened us in the national fight against the pandemic. Thanks to the city hospitals that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has opened so far, 13,417 new intensive care bed facilities have been brought into the country in just two years. At present, Turkey is in the best position among Western countries after the U.S. and Germany with 29.4 intensive care beds per 100,000 people.
Certainly, the next month will be the determinant of Turkey's success. However, the fact that the first case was diagnosed in Turkey 90 days after the outbreak began, the strict control of entries into the country, the early efforts to raise public awareness, the suspension of schools before the start of the spread, and the prevalence of hygiene habits suggested by Islam in our country are promising for us to survive the outbreak without death rates as high as in Italy or the U.K.
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