Measures tightened as coronavirus moves closer to Turkish borders
Turkey ramped up measures at its border gates yesterday as the coronavirus outbreak reached its western and northern neighbors amid an increase in the number of cases and deaths in its eastern neighbor Iran.
Greece reported two new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to three, while Georgia confirmed its first case: A Georgian citizen, who was traveling from Iran and crossed the border from neighboring Azerbaijan.
Turkish officials at the border gates with Greece and Bulgaria in the northwestern province of Edirne were given masks and gloves, while teams from the local infectious diseases were dispatched to the border gates.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Feb. 27 near the border with Iran that field hospitals will be set up on the border and Turkish citizens arriving from Iran will be kept at these hospitals for observation.
Tight security measures at airports, suspended flights, and closed borders have helped Turkey not to have a case so far, Koca said, adding that no confirmed cases “do not mean there will never be any.”
Iranian citizens are not allowed to enter Turkey as the Islamic Republic said on Feb. 27 that the death toll increased to 26, with seven new deaths reported over 24 hours as the spread appeared to accelerate.
Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour told a press briefing that 106 more cases of the disease had been confirmed, raising the tally of infections to 245, the highest outside China where COVID-19 originated.
Municipalities take measures
Besides the government-level measures, local authorities are also taking precautions.
“We will continue our work with the utmost care in cooperation with our state’s relevant authorities,” Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş said in a tweet.
Apart from public transport, crowded locations such as the municipality’s centers will be meticulously cleaned and disinfected every day, Yavaş said.
In the eastern province of Van on the border with Iran, similar measures are being taken by the local administration.
Van Municipality has also been disinfecting and cleaning public transport vehicles and communal spaces with workers wearing special hazmat suits and masks.
The municipality has been carrying out the sanitizing works “periodically,” so that the citizens “can safely use public transportation,” according to an official.
In northwestern Bursa and western Aydın provinces, municipalities are taking similar steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“We attach special importance to hygiene in communal areas. We will continue to take precautions against any epidemics,” said Özlem Çerçioğlu, the mayor of Aydın.
The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed nearly 2,800, the majority in China.
Much remains unknown about the virus but it is clear the ramifications of the world’s second-biggest economy in lockdown for a month or more are vast.