As the invisible enemy coronavirus grips Turkey, the country entrusts its safety to a different army: health care workers. Doctors, nurses, paramedics and others work around the clock in this fight to stop the outbreak and test as many people as possible. They are on the front line and have to remain so as the sole warriors against the deadly disease.
In these tiring days for thousands of health care workers confined to hospitals, the support is overwhelming. The government already introduced a number of new regulations to help motivate them while the public offers their own supports, from morale-boosting applause from their balconies to gifts and social media messages.
Health Minister relaxed restrictions on the assignment of health care workers, particularly those who had to wait for a long period of time after quitting their jobs for reassignment. A presidential decree on March 24 allowed them free access to guesthouses originally allocated to other civil servants while municipalities were instructed to give free mass transit passes for health care workers. The Health Ministry also announced 32,000 health care personnel will be hired to boost the country’s health care “army.”
Several hotels also offer free stays for health care workers, a relief for those especially living far from hospitals they work at and work with little breaks between shifts. Most restaurants also offer free food for health care staff all across the country.
Volunteers make masks and visors
Health care workers also find protection from the coronavirus infection, courtesy of volunteers across the country. From high school students to elderly ladies, there are hundreds of volunteers now working day and night to sew masks. Those with better technological means use 3-D printers to produce protective visors. Istanbul’s Çekmeköy municipality started using six 3-D printers to produce visors for the staff of two hospitals in the district. Volunteers print 100 visors daily. Printing each visor takes about one hour. In the southeastern province of Şırnak, volunteers and teachers employ 3-D printers originally used for design workshops now closed due to outbreak, to print visors for hospitals. In the western city of Eskişehir, students and teachers at two vocational high schools sew 1,000 masks every day, to donate to local hospitals.
Sinem Dündar, a computer technologies teacher and her lawyer husband, borrowed a 3-D printer from Dündar’s school to print visors. The couple so far printed 10 visors and delivered it to a hospital in Çay, a town in the western province of Afyon where they live. “When the schools were closed, I asked a high school which had a 3-D printer to borrow it so I could print visors. We printed 10 visors in two days. We will keep printing if hospitals request,” she told Demirören News Agency (DHA) on Friday.