Fahrettin Koca Was a Guest at AA's 'Editör Masası'

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Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, delivered statements and received questions about the new coronavirus at Anadolu Agency's (AA) Editör Masası program

"The disease is in 33 countries outside China"

"2765 people died. There are 81 thousand infected cases. So far, there have been no cases of coronavirus in Turkey. However, this does not mean that it will stay that way. This virus is spreading globally. Therefore, we have to be cautious. New source countries are coming up. Such as Iran. We are doing the best we can to prevent the entry of the virus into Turkey. The more we delay that the better. We are ready for what is to come. Since day one, we have had reference hospitals in all 81 provinces. We have centers that are equipped with negative pressure rooms and with experienced healthcare personnel."

"We make announcements on board"

Noting that a person with high fever was detected, Minister continued:

"Yesterday, people arrived from other countries and they have been to Iran within the last 14 days. In coordination with the police and MoI, we examine these passengers and keep them under observation for 14 days, just in case. They can be monitored at a hospital, at home or at a hotel. It does not matter. In addition, who is monitoring them? Healthcare personnel, doctors, family practitioners and provincial health directorates. We make announcements on board and hand out leaflets."

Noting that they would not conceal anything from the public and that everyone should trust healthcare professionals, Koca continued: "Could you hide something from WHO? How would the world see you if you did such a thing? It is not possible."

"No need to panic"

Noting that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was following the developments closely, Koca added: "He instructed us and the Scientific Board to take whatever measures we need to take." 

Koca commented: "The virus has spread to 33 countries, except Turkey. We are doing our best to keep it that way. There is no need to panic. We have all the necessary equipment and human resources to deal with everything."

When asked: "Is there a third country to which flights will be suspended?", Koca replied: "At the moment, we did not take a decision about a third country. Nevertheless, we may. The transmission in the region will influence our decision on this matter."

Pointing out that an ill person must be isolated in a quarantine room first, Minister continued:

"The healthcare personnel would care for that patient. Then, they would be clinically monitored and receive intensive care, if needed. We know that people can develop respiratory failure. We follow-up patients to prevent that. We have 48 single rooms available at Ankara City Hospital. 

Vaccination efforts

On vaccination efforts, Koca commented:

"There is no specific antiviral medication for the coronavirus. There are a combination of therapies. There are also vaccination efforts ongoing. There are centers and countries who say that they are making progress. In terms of vaccination, clinical studies are of utmost importance. That is what takes the most time. It will not take a few months but 6- to 9 months. We do not expect a vaccine to be available to use overnight."

Noting the importance of early diagnosis, Koca commented: "We are working on a domestic diagnostic kit that hat a waiting time of 90 to 120 minutes, which was reduced down to 75 minutes. Its cost was down by a quarter."

Pointing out that there were 4 important border gates with Iran, Koca said:

"If someone has traveled to Qom or Mashhad, we put them under quarantine. 28 people were quarantined yesterday." 

"Four types of the coronavirus are identified as seasonal flu"

Pointing out that the novel virus was a member of the coronavirus family, Koca continued:

"As far as we know, it has 6 sub groups. SARS was also caused by a coronavirus. Four types of the coronavirus are identified as seasonal flu. But we do not know how this particular virus mutates and spreads. We learn something new about it every day. As new information arrives, we take measures accordingly."

“Personal hygiene and hand washing are extremely important”

Minister Koca made the following recommendations to people to protect themselves against influenza infections:

“Personal hygiene and hand washing are extremely important. One should wash hands using regular soap for 20 seconds, use disposable towels, try to keep 1-meter distance and the ones with flu must use a mask.

Try not to be in crowded indoor areas, try to rest and eat well and ventilate houses and work places. These are some precautions to take to prevent its spread."
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Updated: 10/03/2020