Health Minister Koca Meets with Parliamentary Correspondents

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Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, met with parliamentary correspondents at the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The Minister received questions from the press members.

Pointing out that they are taking measures against the new coronavirus (COVID-19), Koca added:

"Risk is lower now. No coronavirus patients have been found in Turkey so far. All the measures we have taken is focused on not letting the disease inside the country. We started using thermal cameras even before WHO's recommendation. We event prevented the entry of live animal and animal products.

Saying that the circular issued by the Scientific Board on how to treat patients was distributed to all healthcare facilities, Koca added: "All reference hospitals are identified, including quarantine rooms and monitoring. The procedures to perform are clearly prescribed in the guide. We are all prepared in terms of services and treatment." 

When asked about possible treatments for the disease, Koca replied:

"WHO's approach on the treatment is clear. Right now, there is no known medication available for the virus. Some combined therapies are being used. There results are not conclusive but we can give them a try. Because we know that in some cases virus deactivates by a combination of antiviral medication. It is safe to say that we are ready to perform any and all approaches necessary.

"Efforts ongoing to reduce waiting time on the diagnostic kit"

When asked about the newly-developed diagnostic kit, Koca said: "The main goal is not to reduce costs. It is to reduce waiting time. The waiting time of this kit is between 90 to 120 minutes. Our goal is to reduce it to 60 to 75 minutes. Probably, 75 minutes is achievable." 

Adding that they reduced the price of the previous kit from TRY 300 to TRY 75, Koca said: "This is also a commercial product. Its rights will be marketed through USHAŞ International Health Services Inc. It will be sold abroad." 

"No issues in terms of masks or gloves"

Regarding the claims about sunflower seeds, Koca said: We know that the persistence of the virus on surfaces is not that long. Since it is not transmitted through inanimate surfaces, WHO does not restrict the import of live animal and animal by-products. Despite this, we restricted it temporarily based on the recommendation of the Scientific Board. It does not transmit through inanimate objects, let alone live animals and animal products.

Regarding the claims that masks are sold to China and there is limited quantity in Turkey, Koca said: "We have lots of it. There are no issues in terms of masks or gloves. We can even locally produce surgical masks. We won't be having any problems about this matter." 

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Updated: 03/03/2020