Minister Assesses the Latest Situation on Coronavirus

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Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, discussed latest developments and measures on the new coronavirus following the Scientific Board meeting.

Noting that two board members, who were assigned to the headquarters of the World Health Organization to closely follow-up on the latest developments on the coronavirus, went to Geneva today, Koca continued:

"Turkey has a 'Pandemic Action Plan', which is a document that is regularly updated in line with the recommendations of scientific boards. I would like to say that we are not taking measures only when there is an epidemic. We have an action plan for epidemics every year and take measures beforehand."

In terms of preparations made for the new coronavirus epidemic, Koca said:

"We have serum stocks for treatment in pharmaceutical warehouses and we have also made necessary arrangements to make sure that they are rapidly produced, if needed. I would also like to underline that we have enough stock of antiviral drugs available at the warehouse of the GD of Public Health. We identified the healthcare facilities that would serve as quarantine centers in case of an epidemic in the Pandemic Action Plan. We have plans ready on have they would operate and organize when needed. We also have 48 field hospitals with 50-bed capacity available to be used if hospitals are strained. It only takes 24 hours for these field hospitals to be established."

"We see a fall in the number of seasonal flu cases"

Emphasizing that the Ministry's priority was to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus into Turkey, Koca added that airports and border gates were regularly inspected. Reminding the fact that flights from China were suspended until the end of the month, Koca said: "All arriving international passengers are scanned using thermal cameras and quarantine rooms and negative pressure stretchers are readily available, if needed."

Koca continued:

"Thanks to their heightened awareness about the coronavirus, people are now paying more attention to taking the necessary measures to protect their health. These days, I advise everyone to wash their hands regularly, avoid kissing and hand-shaking and if you have an infection, try not to go into crowded areas and wear a mask. These precautions also helped the number of seasonal cases to decline."

Locally-produced kit is available

Koca told the reporters that the waiting time of available tests to detect coronavirus was 4 to 24 hours and that the General Directorate of Public Health kicked off its efforts to work on a locally-produced kit with less waiting time.

Koca added:

"This kit was finalized last week. The waiting time was reduced down to 90 to 120 minutes. The laboratory started to use this kit last thursday, and its accuracy is 99.5%."

Koca also provided information about the evacuees from China: "Third samples collected from the passengers under observation at Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital were also negative."

Adding that the evacuees had been at the hospital for 10 days, Koca continued:

"In line with the recommendation of the Scientific Board, the healthcare personnel and the cabin crew will be discharged from the hospital after 10 days and they will be under observation for 4 more days in their homes."

"Let's be proud of Turkey's healthcare system"

Stressing that Turkey should be proud of its healthcare system and its selfless healthcare personnel, Koca added: "We have an exemplary healthcare system. In Van, it was a medical team that had the first access to a car. The team was there 23 minutes after the accident. In Elazığ, 2.625 people came from all over the country in 8 hours. Please, let's no speculate about certain things. Let's see the truth as it is." 

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Updated: 03/03/2020