UPDATE – Turkey: 93% of coronavirus victims were 65 or older

Alaturka Amerika ABD Haberleri

REVISED HEADLINE, DECK, REVISED THROUGHOUT; UPDATED WITH MORE DETAILS

By Selma Kasap

ANKARA (AA) – Some 93% of the people in Turkey claimed by coronavirus were 65 or older, the country’s health minister said on Friday.

“The average age of people who died over the past month is 74.6,” Fahrettin Koca told ambassadors of 26 EU countries via video link in a briefing on the virus.

He added: “93% of total deaths were age 65 or older.”

As Turkey has eased its COVID-19 restrictions, its medical tourism sector has also revived, as over 1,000 healthcare tourists have visited the country in the last 10 days, Koca said, according to a Health Ministry statement released after the meeting.

Turkey reopened its borders to medical tourists from all nations as of May 28.

With patients from abroad drawn by both its high-quality service and lower prices, in 2018 Turkey earned some $1.5 billion from medical tourism.

– ‘Healthcare a strength for Turkey’

Koca also said Turkey is ready for cooperation in the healthcare sector.

“As you all know, full EU membership is Turkey’s strategic goal. The outbreak process proved that Turkey will bring a great strength to the EU, not only in the fields of policy and the economy but also in healthcare,” he told the ambassadors.

He said Turkey has the capacity to test over 50,000 people daily for the virus, adding that the country has tested over 2.2 million people to date.

Thanks to early treatment protocols, the percentage of inpatients developing pneumonia plummeted from 60% to 3%, he said, adding that it also led to a sharp drop in the rate of deaths in intensive care units from 58% to 7%.

Highlighting that Turkey kept the elderly under strict protection at home since the beginning of the outbreak, Koca said these measures proved effective by producing a lower mortality rate for the elderly.

On the country’s success in producing and exporting life-saving medical devices, he said Turkey has exported more than 4,000 Turkish-made mechanical ventilators crucial for treating COVID-19.

The mechanical ventilators were designed by Turkish firm BIOSYS and produced with the backing of Baykar, major appliance maker Arcelik, and defense giant Aselsan.

Koca concluded that Turkey will become an important destination for medical tourism in the future.

* Writing by Sena Guler

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