Turkey steps up measures as first coronavirus case confirmed
Some national and international sports events have been postponed, controls have been tightened at borders and health officials keep the public informed about the virus and how to protect against it.
A number of municipalities, including Istanbul, the country’s largest city, and the capital Ankara, have mobilized staff to wipe down buses used for public transport with disinfectants.
In İzmir, the third largest province, schools, bus stops and public places are disinfected against the possible spread of the coronavirus.
The Youth and Sports Ministry has announced that a total of 82 national and international events that had been initially scheduled for March and April have been postponed.
Education Minister Ziya Selçuk has said that considerations are underway as to what plans will be devised in the face of the latest development.
“Our assessments are ongoing,” Selçuk said on late March 10.
The minister was set to attend the coronavirus science council that was scheduled for yesterday. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekan and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy will also participate.
First confirmed case
Health Minister Koca announced early yesterday that a Turkish male tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The infected individual contracted the virus after returning from Europe. He has been completely isolated,” Koca told a press conference in Ankara.
“The patient’s general condition is good. All of his family members and those who came into contact with him are under surveillance,” he added.
“An early diagnosis [of the patient] was made. If there is a virus infection in the country, it is very limited. One or more cases of the coronavirus should not be considered an epidemic,” he noted.
“The coronavirus is not stronger than the measures we will take. A quarantined patient cannot threaten society.”
Koca urged locals to not go abroad unless such a trip is compulsory.
“Turkey planned its fight against the coronavirus. Turkey will fight nationally against this global problem,” he said.
Turkey last month closed its border with Iran, which has been hard-hit by the virus, and canceled all flights to the country.
“The early detection of the case and 14-day isolation period enforced was crucial,” said Professor Ateş Kara from the Science Council.
He noted that the family members of the coronavirus patient have also been put under quarantine.
“If we manage to keep the patient and people to whom this person might have transmitted the virus under control, this will be a great achievement in containing the spread of the disease,” Kara said.
Another expert has warned the public about getting panicky over the reported virus case.
“A few cases may not mean a lot. The crucial point is that the number of cases should not increase. If such cases indeed spike, this may pose a serious danger,” said Professor Hüseyin Yılmaz.