To weather the coronavirus threat, Turkey, like all countries, needs strong public healthcare measures and wise leadership. But in its age-old traditions, perhaps it already enjoys an unexpected edge.
For in recent weeks the popularity of traditional Turkish cologne has soared, an evergreen symbol of hospitality that people now look to as a valiant guard to help ward off germs.
For in offering ethanol-based cologne (kolonya) to their guests, people realized they were not just being welcoming, but also providing a natural disinfectant.
This tradition may be one of the weapons in Turkey’s arsenal that so far has kept cases of the virus in the country relatively low and might help stave off higher numbers in the months to come.
Turkey to date has fewer than 20 confirmed cases of the virus, most of them associated with people who recently traveled abroad, including to Europe, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
In Turkish tradition, cologne is offered in a variety of situations as a pleasant fragrance: after a haircut, on a bus ride, after a trip, when guests arrive or when visiting a friend in the hospital.