President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Friday recorded a special audio message to further spread awareness about the coronavirus pandemic.
The message was shared with all Turkish telecommunications service providers, whose subscribers will receive an automated call from Erdoğan starting Saturday.
The recording aims to reach as many people as possible, especially the elderly – the group most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak. Senior citizens are less likely to hear about the disease's threat online, but the vast majority of the high-risk group has access to a cell phone.
Erdoğan also shared the message via his various social media accounts.
In the recording, the president said Turkey is working "day and night" to minimize the effects of the coronavirus in the country.
"We are running a relentless fight against the coronavirus," he said. "This virus mostly affects the elderly and those with chronic diseases."
He asked the nation to take steps to protect against the virus but also to be mindful of elderly relatives or those who have chronic diseases.
"You should increase the social distance as much as possible and most importantly, you should never go out of the house unless you have to. In this process, you should carefully follow the statements of our official institutions and organizations, especially our Health Ministry," he said and stressed hygienic measures.
The use of internet technology and telecommunication should be applied when communicating with relatives and other activities, he said.
He also asked that prayers be performed at home and not to accept visitors as much as possible – spending time at home is more important.
"On behalf of myself and my nation, I would like to express my gratitude to all my citizens who stand by us and act with a sense of responsibility in this struggle with the coronavirus. I hope we will come through these hard days together, God willing."
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late Friday the number of virus cases in Turkey reached 670, with nine deaths.
COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 164 countries and territories. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Out of more than 258,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 11,000 and more than 87,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.
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