Minister Koca Makes a Press Statement After Scientific Committee

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Minister of Health, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, provided information and received questions from press members following the Scientific Committee meeting.

Noting that the disease had spread to 68 countries including Azerbaijan, Armenia and Czechia, Koca said that the total number of cases was 89.211.

Pointing out that the number of new cases was decreasing in China while increasing in other countries, Koca continued:

"85% of the cases are mild and 15% are more severe. Especially in high-risk groups, the mortality rate go up to 15%. But up to age 50, the mortality rate is 0.2%. Every year, 250 to 500 thousand people die of seasonal flu. The panic we see among public is not proportionate to the actual picture of the novel coronavirus."

"There may be people among us with the virus"

Noting that the virus had surrounded Turkey, Koca continued:

"We cannot say that this virus will not be detected in Turkey. There may be people among us with the virus. We would like the ones who have been abroad within the last

14 days, especially to the 5 high-risk countries (Iraq, Iran, China, South Korea, Italy) to avoid public places and to try to spend 14 days following their return home. Within this period, if someone develops a symptom, we would like to advise them to seek medical care."

"Having the coronavirus in Turkey should not mean a disaster. If that happens, our healthcare system is strong enough to cope with it" said Koca and highlighted that necessary preparations were being made.

"13.834 people went through medical examination"

Koca provided information about Umrah pilgrimage:

"Saudi Arabia suspended Umrah pilgrimage activities. The important thing was to take the necessary measures upon the return of Turkish nationals. Starting from Saturday evening, everyone returning from Umrah pilgrimage has been scanned using thermal cameras and going through medical examination. 13.834 people went through medical examination. 5 suspected cases were referred to healthcare facilities. Their tests came back negative."

"9 countries offered support"

When asked about efforts on coronavirus vaccination, Koca pointed out the Scientific Committee's opinion that vaccination would require a clinical study of at least 6 months and that it would not be released before at least a year. 

With regard to a coronavirus case reported from Jordan, Koca commented:

"We know that the number of cases may increase in the region, as this is the case in Iran. They asked for our and 9 countries' support on how to fight this, sharing knowledge and sending experts, if needed. We are thinking about sharing information on digital medium."

Upon a question about the lack of masks and high prices, Koca replied:

"We know that the demand is high for masks abroad. In Turkey, the demand is not that high. We keep telling Turkish people not to panic, to follow our warnings and instructions and not to use masks unnecessarily."

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Updated: 16/03/2020