Deputy Ministers of Health, Prof Emine Alp Meşe and Halil Eldemir briefed the Commission on Health, Family, Labor and Social Affairs on COVID-19 response efforts. and answered the questions of the members of the parliament.
Noting that time gained thanks to the measures taken was used to prepare the healthcare system, Meşe added that a variety of measures to contain the pandemic were taken such as closure of schools, suspending mass gatherings, flexible working arrangements to protect risk groups, curfews and lockdowns, travel restrictions, financial aid and introduction of apps.
Saying that new hospitals were opened and hospital bed capacity was increased during the pandemic, Meşe continued: "Turkey ranks 17th in terms of population but 13th in terms of total number of cases. However, in terms of number of cases per capita, Turkey ranks the 53th, which is way lower than many other countries."
Pointing out that Turkey's response against COVID-19 had been a success story, Meşe added:"The two most important elements behind this success are a strong political will and a whole-of-government approach. This allowed us to delay the entry of the virus and take the necessary measures in a timely manner. Proper use of advanced health information systems, rational management of supply chains and logistic capabilities, timely manufacturing of PCR test kits, a flexible manufacturing capacity that can adapt to changing needs, and a widespread primary healthcare system have helped us greatly."
Prof Meşe also added that vaccine and anti-serum efforts were ongoing.
Questions from committee members
Deputy Ministers Meşe and Eldemir answered questions of the members of the parliament.
Meşe noted that testing healthcare professionals had been discussed at length and added: "The most rational approach is to perform tests based on risk. We have published an algorithm for that. We perform tests based on risk of contact of the healthcare worker. We have no limitation on tests."
Reliability of PCR test
Highlighting that the PCR test kit was manufactured locally, Meşe continued: "Its reliability is over 90%. We have no problems with regard to the test. We conduct regular quality checks at our laboratories."
"The Scientific Board has been recommending a distance of at least a meter. But of course, the ideal is 2 meters, if possible If you are wearing a mask, 1 meter is sufficient. But, the more distance you have, the better."
"PCR tests are free of charge"
Deputy Minister Eldemir replied to critisisms that PCR tests were paid in Turkey and said: "This is definitely not true. Tests are free-of-charge in Turkey."
Eldemir noted that the whole country should be proud of its healthcare system and healthcare professionals.
Chair of the Commission, Recep Akdağ stressed that great efforts had been exerted and thanked healthcare professionals and the Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca.