Duvar English

The Turkish government will step in to ensure the price of face masks do not skyrocket amid the coronavirus outbreak, authorities announced on March 11.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said that prices of masks will be subject to the the ministry’s “preliminary approval.” Koca made the comments during a press conference along with Culture and Tourism Minister Nuri Ersoy and Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan.

Pekcan also commented on the issue saying that the authorities were monitoring the price increases in the masks. “The firms will firstly meet the domestic market’s demand for masks. We will make sure that people obtain masks with reasonable prices,” she said.

Pekcan said that the authorities had so far looked into the prices of 2,641 sanitation products (like masks and disinfectants) put on the market by 2,193 firms and had accordingly launched an investigation into 2,180 firms.

Pekcan also said that there was a hike in food prices and they were similarly monitoring this issue. “We also observe outrageous prices in food items. We will also do what is necessary for that issue. We will give no respite to opportunists,” she said.

Following the announcement of Turkey’s first confirmed coronavirus case early on March 11, many Turks rushed to supermarkets, beginning to stockpile essentials over fear that supplies will be affected by the spread of the virus.

‘One or a few coronavirus cases do not amount to an epidemic’

Health Minister Koca said during the press conference that “one or a few coronavirus cases do not amount to an epidemic.” “This situation only means that the virus has entered the boundaries of our country. What we need to do is to reorganize our lives in line with the precautions,” Koca said, reiterating his previous remark that the virus is “not stronger than our precautions.”

Koca also reiterated his earlier warning that citizens should not go abroad unless travel travel is “compulsory.” “Our citizens who were planning to go abroad should either cancel their travel plans or postpone it. The risk is serious,” he said.

He went on to say that the country’s health facilities were fully prepared to deal with the outbreak. “We have medicines in our stocks. We ordered some medications three weeks ago. This was our preparation period. No problem with preparations,” he said. 

On the suspension of schools, he said that the issue was currently not on the agenda but could be considered if the need arises. He had said a day earlier that he would meet with Education Minister Ziya Selçuk in the upcoming coming days and discuss temporally closing schools across the country.