Turkey to increase coronavirus testing capacity to 15,000 per day
Ankara aims to rapidly increase its own testing within Turkey and has a target of carrying out 10,000 to 15,000 tests per day, Koca said.
He said more than 10,000 tests have so far been carried out in total.
“We think this number will increase in the upcoming days. Our goal is to conduct 15,000 tests per day,” he said, addressing parliament, where he briefed lawmakers about Turkey’s measures against the coronavirus.
Apart from the targeted increase in test capacity, Koca said that the number of the laboratories will also increase from 25 to 36. He added that all metropolises will soon be able to conduct COVID-19 tests.
Koca also conveyed that a quick-diagnosis test will be used in a few days, which will be distributed to all provinces. The kits will arrive on March 20, he said.
He also said that Turkey has sent 500,000 coronavirus test kits to the United States upon their request.
372,000 citizens arrived from overseas
The minister also said that since March 1, some 372,000 citizens arrived in Turkey from abroad. He said that the family practice centers are meticulously controlling the returnees and carried out 132,000 medical examinations in a day.
According to the figures Koca provided, the thermal cameras set up at airports have scanned some over 4.6 million passengers. Some 1,103 passengers, out of 189,000, who entered the country via border gates were also placed under supervision.
Koca also added that the Turkish citizens returning from the Umrah pilgrimage from Saudi Arabia have been “isolated.” The returnees were “isolated” in student dorms after one was tested positive for the COVID-19.
He also requested support from lawmakers to fight against “fake news” and “baseless claims on social media.”
Citizens returning from the Umrah pilgrimage have caused nationwide panic, as news about them attempting to or having successfully escaped quarantine spread.
In the eastern Erzurum province, 28 Umrah fugitives were captured by the police and put under quarantine on March 18. On March 19, five more run-aways were captured in the southeastern Şanlıurfa province and were quarantined immediately. The police referred the citizens to a hospital on the grounds that they were not abiding by the 14-day self-isolation rule and were receiving guests at their houses.
Koca also said that Iran and Italy, who ranked second and third concerning infection numbers after China, were responsible for the virus’ spread around the world and Europe.
“Iran caused the virus to get spread to all the countries. Italy caused the spread in Europe by allowing those arriving from China to roam in the country,” he said.
Over 25,466 intensive care unit capacity
The minister also underlined that even though the number of beds in Turkey’s hospitals are below OECD levels, the country has an intensive care unit capacity that can hold 25,466 patients.
Koca said that in Turkey, there are 28 hospital beds for 10,000 people, while this average figure is 40 for the OECD countries.
Some 9,977 rooms in hospitals are for one person only, which can be used for isolation or as intensive care units, Koca added.
Medical personnel praised
Koca also said that the medical staff’s leaves were terminated due to the outbreak. He said that the government is distributing protective gear to all hospitals.
“Our medical personnel are bearing the brunt of the risks and contact with patients directly. Their workload and the risks they face have increased. I would like to thank our heroes in this struggle and request a round of applause,” he said.
After Koca’s remarks, the lawmakers in parliament applauded the medical personnel for their sacrifices and hard work.