Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

While health clinics have been inundated with patients concerned they might have contracted coronavirus, many people have come to request reports indicating they are healthy, for fear that they might be let go from their jobs otherwise, according to Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Family Healthcare branch chair Filiz Ünsal. 

“Most people work in the private sector and they are requesting a clean bill of health due to the fear of being fired from their drops. This chaotic period is something we have not experienced in the past. Normally, they come and say ‘I’m sick, give me a report,’ but now they are saying ‘Don’t give me a report, in fact write something saying that I’m healthy, otherwise they will put me on unpaid leave.’,” Ünsal said. 

“During this period, I believe that this fear of ending up unemployed and the resulting wish to leave quarantine will make it easier for the virus to spread and will increase the number of deaths,” Ünsal added. 

Risks for healthcare workers

According to Ünsal, there is an insufficient amount of preventative healthcare supplies such as masks, gloves and disinfectant at Turkey’s family health centers:

“Healthcare workers who are working day and night are getting tired, and if equipment is not provided, they will become infected. We must find a solution for this situation. Healthcare workers becoming sick increases the risk for patients,” Ünsal said. 

And while many people that have recently returned from abroad are adhering to their 14-day home quarantines, Ünsal said that others are skirting the procedure. 

“For example, when I called a patient who returned 12 days ago from Switzerland who said they were at work. They didn’t have a cough or a fever. But if they did, they could have spread it to everyone they came into contact with in those 12 days. There are those coming from Umrah who are escaping the quarantine. If only we were strict from the beginning and took different precautions instead of now searching for those who have escaped quarantine,” Ünsal said. 

Ünsal said that that in the initial days the clinics were full of people complaining that they had sore throats and wondering if they had the virus, as well as people requesting a clean bill of health so they could get a drivers license, who were instructed to come back three weeks later. Older people in particular, who among those in the high-risk group, were instructed not to come to the clinics, and that all doctors instructed patients to not come unless there was an emergency. She added that as a result people now are starting to become more aware of the situation and things have simmered down at the clinics.