UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT
By Dilara Hamit and Sena Guler
ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s president on Wednesday said the government has mobilized all resources and will leave no stone unturned in efforts to eliminate the coronavirus threat as soon as possible.
“[…] We have mobilized all our means to eliminate as soon as possible the threat of virus that our country is exposed to. The responsibility lies on every citizen of our nation," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his first press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak.
The press conference followed a three-and-a-half-hour coordination meeting on measures against coronavirus at the Cankaya Palace in capital Ankara.
He stressed Turkey closely monitored the global outbreak since its start and implemented swift and timely preventive measures.
He said that among the measures were formation of a co-ordination center and a scientific council in early January. Passengers coming from China’s Wuhan, where the virus originated, as well as other most affected countries went through health scanning upon their arrival to Turkey as of Jan. 20.
In February and March, Turkey also suspended flights to and from many countries to prevent the further spread of the virus. It also closed border gates with various neighboring countries, including Iran and Greece.
Public places such as cafeterias, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, wedding halls, sports halls, internet cafes, as well as pubs, nightclubs, museums and libraries are also temporarily closed.
– 'Don’t leave home unless necessary'
He said the government will limit the stay-at-home period for citizens to three weeks if people properly follow all preventive measures.
He urged citizens not to leave their houses unnecessarily and limit social contact until the coronavirus threat dissipates.
He said the government will distribute protective masks and cologne, which has natural disinfectant properties, to citizens above 65 years of age in Istanbul and Ankara.
Erdogan added that Turkey was making rapid efforts to develop a vaccine and medicine for COVID-19.
“Such outbreaks have had severe consequences around the world, and have even been the triggers for major political, social, and economic transformations,” he said.
“We are entering a new era, one in which we are likely to see radical changes in the global economic, political, and social order.”
The Turkish president said the situation being witnessed in Western countries had disproved their claims of having transferred basic public health care to the private sector.
He said it showed those countries had actually abandoned the essential services and left their citizens vulnerable.
Turkey was the last among major world economies to report coronavirus cases. As of Wednesday, there were 98 confirmed cases in the country and a fatality due to COVID-19.
The virus emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has spread to at least 164 countries and territories around the globe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO has declared the outbreak a pandemic and its data showed there were over 194,000 confirmed cases and nearly 7,900 deaths around the world by Wednesday evening.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is not fatal in all cases and a vast majority of patients do fully recover.