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Turkey’s presidency showed the world “how to protect a leader” during the COVID-19 pandemic as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s team continue get tested everyday, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Oct. 14.

“God protect from evil gaze, we passed this test with flying colors. You see, many governments’ presidents, ministers contracted it. This is no joke,” Kalın said.

Noting that Erdoğan had spent 70 days in isolation at the Huber Mansion in Istanbul, the spokesman added that the president didn’t accept any visitors during this time, except for a few guests who were masked and tested during their meeting.

Meanwhile, the president’s team in Ankara’s presidential palace get tested everyday, and Erdoğan receives routine testing at longer intervals, Kalın added.

Turkey’s medical professionals and medical associations have been noting a lack of testing among health workers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some workers from the capital Ankara even reported being instructed to prioritize “VIP patients.”

Religious cult infiltration to be taken seriously if there’s solid data

Referring to the recently-heated discussion surrounding the infiltration of religious cults into the state, the spokesperson said that Ankara would take these allegations seriously if there was solid data revealing it.

Kalın said that the government “learned a lesson” from its prior close relationship with U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s movement, legally called the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

“If the same snake bites you twice, it means you’ve lost control,” Kalın said. “The government must, by definition, be above these sorts of organizations.”

Kalın also said that it would be unfair to make religious cults seem antagonistic, as he said it’s natural for them to function within legal boundaries and for the greater good.