Fahrettin Koca Delivers Statement on Coronavirus


Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, delivered a statement following the Coronavirus Scientific Committee meeting.

Stating that they keep the public informed everyday about the process and measures taken, Koca pointed out that people should not give credit to approaches and rhetoric aimed at making people nervous.

Adding that they had a team at the Geneva office of the World Health Organization that provides information in real-time and said: "As of today, 27 countries outside of China have coronavirüs and we know that is mostly effects people over 60."

The Minister said: "Since the disease is uncommon for children under 15, there is no need to be anxious about schools."

"Our goal is to zero the risk and protect our citizens against the new coronavirus"

Noting that the thermal camera was started to be used for 8 countries the day before, Koca continued:

"Everyday, the number of cases and reporting countries increase. Right now, there are 24.604 cases and 494 deaths and there are 27 countries that reported the disease outside of China. The number of severe cases is currently 3219. For this reason, we will be using thermal cameras for all international passengers arriving to Turkey. Our goal is to zero the risk and protect our citizens against the new coronavirus. We are also distributing leaflets and informing passengers who will travel abroad."

"We see that market price of masks are going up"

Reminding of the establishment of the Turkish National Committee on Zoonotic Diseases in September 2018 with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and other institutions and sectors, the Minister noted that a Turkish Zoonotic Diseases Action Plan for 2019-2023 was a work in progress. 

Saying that the committee held its ordinary meeting, Koca continued:

"Sick people are advised to wear masks if they are going in public. There is no need to wear a mask otherwise. In particular, there is no need to wear a respiratory mask.

And we know that lately, there is huge demand for protective equipment such as masks. We also know that market price of masks are going up. The Medicines and Medical Devices Agency and the MoH have been receiving a lot of complaints. We are in contact with the Ministry of Trade. We advise our citizens to apply to Consumer Arbitration Committees. As the MoH, we are closely monitoring this issue with the MoT."

"Using regular cleaners is enough"

Pointing out that false information is circulating about the disinfection, Koca said:

"It is sufficient enough to clean using regular cleaners. And regular soap will do for hand-cleaning."

Conditions of 61 people staying at Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital

Noting that 61 people staying at Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital were in good condition, Koca continued: "Since passengers from China did not have any unprotected close contact with anyone outside the cabin crew and the healthcare personnel, the Scientific Board may advise that they be released after Monday for observation at home. In that case, we will inform the public."

Following the Coronavirus Scientific Committee meeting held at the MoH's Bilkent campus, Koca received questions from press members.

Upon being asked about the claims that a coronavirus vaccine was developed in Thailand, Koca said: "This came out as news. There is no clear information yet. Vaccines cannot be developed in a few weeks. So, it would be best to wait a little bit more."

On the question of whether there were any efforts on the treatment of the new coronavirus, Minister replied:

"Right now, we are working towards developing a diagnosis kit. This will be a domestic kit that will diagnose the disease. I believe I will be able to update you on this next week. We have a general approach towards vaccines. Right now, we do not have anything specific for the coronavirus but we will kick off some efforts in cooperation with universities."

Use of thermal cameras

Providing information about the use of thermal cameras, Koca pointed out that the World Health Organization still did not recommend taking measures such as travel or trade restrictions.

Despite this, Koca reminded everyone that they decided to suspend all flights to and from China that night and said:

"Turkey is strong in terms of technical capabilities, personnel and infrastructure. We have the means to implement this. We do not need to do any additional thing. For that, we are quickly implementing the recommendation of the Scientific Board. Slowly, people are interpreting this as a pandemic. As the number of countries outside China increases, this can turn into a pandemic. Since the disease is seen not only in China but also in 27 other countries, we have the capacity, staff and technical infrastructure to do this. And we are doing this for the well-being of our people. There is no case of coronavirus in Turkey yet, but we know that it can come. We want to do our best to make sure that we prevent that."

Updated: 27/02/2020