After Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed Turkey’s first case of coronavirus on March 10, many Istanbul residents have turned to an age-old staple for protection against the virus: lemon-scented cologne.
The cologne is very popular throughout Turkey due to its antibacterial properties (it contains alcohol) and its pleasant, refreshing citrusy scent. It is common to see it sprinkled in the hands of customers as they leave restaurants.
Emre Başkan, who sells simit, a sesame-covered bread ring sold in stands all over the country, said that he was using the cologne as a preventative measure.
“Well, they are saying [the virus] is in Turkey but we can’t know for sure. After every time I take money [from a customer] I pour cologne on my hands,” Başkan said.
Local news reports indicated that lemon-scented cologne was among the products flying off the shelves of markets in Istanbul on Wednesday after the announcement of the virus officially reaching Turkey. Some customers reportedly attempted to buy out markets’ entire stock of the product.
Some Istanbulites have said that they have altered their day-to-day habits based on the news:
“Throughout the day I am trying not to touch my face at all. When someone sneezes I cover my face with my scarf. Before getting on the metrobus, I use the disinfectant spray near the entrance,” said student Özge Paksoy.
Other residents did not appear to be quite as worried:
“The news just came out. I’m not worried. My wife is healthy and I am listening to what she says,” said landscaper Turgay Külünk, who said that concerns over the virus need not be exaggerated.