Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on March 23 said that Turkey imported a medicine from China which is believed to be effective against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Koca said that coronavirus patients in Turkey currently in intensive care units have been as of March 23 morning given this new medicine.
The minister is believed to be referring to Favipiravir which China found to be effective in treating patients following two clinical trials.
A Chinese top official had previously said that patients who were given Favipiravir reported positive results after four days of treatment. This contrasts with a median of 11 days for those without the medication.
Koca made the comments while addressing a news conference on the new precautions to be adopted against the coronavirus.
He held the news conference after chairing a meeting of the Health Ministry’s Science Committee in the capital Ankara to discuss the number of cases and possible precautions to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus.
The minister also said that among the people who tested positive for the virus are some healthcare personnel.
As per the other measures against the virus, Turkey is about to appoint 32,000 new healthcare personnel, Koca said.
The country will also begin mass production of respirators, he said.
“In the coming days we will be announcing the number of recovering cases every day. I want to note that we have a large number of people who have recovered,” the minister said, without providing further details.
The virus infection has spread almost across whole Turkey, but still there are provinces in which cases are concentrated, Koca said.
“The cases were mostly from abroad initially, but I can say that through contacts, it has increased … I can say it has spread almost across the whole country.”
Koca once again urged the elderly to stay at home and said that two of the coronavirus victims in Turkey were aged between 50-60, one was 91, and all the others were older than 61.
Turkey plans to use up to 1 million testing kits
Koca also announced that Turkish officials had ordered rapid testing kits from China. “We have activated the rapid test kit. Today, 50,000 arrived from China. On Thursday, 300,000 additional kits will come, and we have made arrangements to use up to 1 million kits.”
Koca said Turkey will stop exporting locally-made face masks so its own citizens can use them. “Masks produced in Turkey will not be exported while we need them here,” he said.
As of March 22, the country’s death toll from the virus stands at 30, while the number of cases exceeds 1,200. Koca said he will announce the new figures later on March 23.