Employees of the Turkish Health Ministry’s hospital appointment call centers have been suffering from a lack of basic cleaning supplies like soap in their offices around Turkey amid a coronavirus outbreak. Wishing to stay anonymous out of fear for their job, employees have reported they’re not offered soap and paper towels in the offices where thousands of people work.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel released a video about social distancing, the practice of avoiding human interaction to prevent the spread of coronavirus, with Turkish subtitles. The government spokesperson shared the video with a message in Turkish.
A total of 19 people were detained over sharing "unfounded and provocative" posts on social media about coronavirus, Turkey's Interior Ministry has said. The interior ministry statement said there were social media posts which were targeting officials and spreading panic and fear by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures.
Dozens of pilgrims taken into coronavirus quarantine in a student dormitory in the Central Anatolian province of Konya confronted police during their attempt to escape. The incident was slammed on social media, with Twitter users saying that the escape attempt is reckless. When asked about the incident, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that "a more detailed plan was prepared on the issue."
Following demands from healthcare professionals due to coronavirus threat rising in Turkey, the Ministry of Health has began to prepare regulations that will limit the number of applications for emergency healthcare service and initiate an incentivized appointment-based system. Doctors warn that at the moment family health centers and their practices are not enough to respond to frustrated patients which might fuel violence against healthcare workers.
Some 29 more people have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, bringing the total in Turkey to 47, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said late on March 16.
Turkey's Health Ministry has produced public service announcements (PSAs) that urge hand-washing, social distancing and other best practices to combat the deadly coronavirus. The messages were delivered by two famous actors Timuçin Esen and Taner Ölmez.
TV travel presenter Burak Akkul late on March 16 tweeted that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Akkul had earlier in the day said that he could not receive his results despite having taken a coronavirus test five days prior.
Turkey has expanded its travel ban to six more countries, making the total number of countries 20, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said. The United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Ireland have been added to the list of banned countries, Koca said.
Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) has suspended all congregational prayers in mosques, including traditional Friday prayers, amid coronavirus fears. “Including the Friday prayers, congregational prayers will be suspended in mosques. During this period, instead of Friday prayers, [Muslims] can perform noon prayers [at home],” Diyanet head Ali Erbaş said.
The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Sinan Adıyaman, has said that the association has been receiving unconfirmed information that the number of coronavirus patients in Turkey is much higher than 18. He also called on the Heath Ministry to increase the number of health centers performing coronavirus tests.
Starting early on March 17, Turkey is closing all cafes, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, gyms and other venues, the Interior Ministry said. All gatherings and activities by non-governmental organizations will be also postponed.
Turkish citizens studying abroad report lacking clear instructions from their schools and government regarding whether they must return to Turkey. Some students abroad were told by their universities that Turkey’s Council of Higher Education had told them to return to their home country, but an official from the institution refuted that such a directive was given.
Following the first confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Turkey, many people have rushed to supermarkets and stores to purchase bulk supplies of pasta, flour, cooking oil, lemon-scented cologne, and other staples, though medical experts say that a two-week supply is sufficient. The doctors warn that wearing masks or stockpiling cologne and pasta does not protect one from the virus, but changing one's lifestyle and daily habits will. The best way to limit spread of the disease is to limit contact with other people.
Turkish main opposition CHP holds congress despite worldwide cancellations due to coronavirus concerns
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) held its 14th Istanbul Women's Branch Congress March 15 amid worldwide cancellations due to the coronavirus. CHP Istanbul Provincial Chair and physician, Canan Kaftancioglu, was the target of criticism for insisting on holding the event and for giving a former party member a hug at his mother's funeral March 15.