Mahnoor Ahsan Lahore Pakistan
TURKEY’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
A successful approach to control the pandemic
As we all know, coronavirus is an infectious disease that is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), being contagious the disease spread like bushfire and spreaded worldwide from its point of origin that is Wuhan, the Capital of China’s Hubei Province. Till date it has affected 213 countries and territories around the World. Till now the pandemic has affected more than 8 million people and among them there are more than 4.5 lac deaths. According to worldometer stats almost 50% of the affected individuals have been recovered worldwide while among those who still are suffering from the infection almost 98% cases are mild and only 2 percent cases are fetal. The most common symptoms experienced are fever, cough, loss of sense of smell (asomia) and taste, muscle and joint pain and gastrointestinal discomfort. In some cases pneumonia, multi-organ failure, chest tightness, heart inflammation and palpitations. Although majority of the persons are asymptomatic. The virus spreaded worldwide and Italy became the gateway for the virus to enter Asia. From China, the virus spreaded worldwide within no time but Turkey as one of the major economies of the world, became the last major economy to suffer from this pandemic. In Turkey, first case of the novel coronavirus was reported on March 11th, 2020 however Turkey suffered first fatality from the virus on 17th March, 2020. Within a week, Turkish President announced 15.4bn dollars package to help protect their economy to be destroyed by the pandemic. Furthermore their government took various protective measures to protect their nation from the pandemic, such as the distribution of protective masks and cologne to citizens above 65 years of age. Furthermore, Flights whether national or international were suspended, traveling between the cities was suspended, public gatherings were banned and schools and shops were closed. Inspite of all the preventive measure, disease being highly contagious spreaded almost all over Turkey as well but the progression rate was very well controlled by the government. Population of Turkey is about 82 million people, among them only approximately 2 lac people are infected and out of them 85 percent people have completely recovered from the disease. Death ratio in comparison to the cases is almost 0.02 percent. Like other countries of the world, in prevention Turkey also imposed a 48 hour curfew in the major cities affected (Istanbul; the heart of Turkey, Izmir and Ankara) with the virus.
Inspite of preventive the measures, within weeks Turkey surpassed China as the republic with most number of cases affected with the pandemic outside Europe and United Stated of America. Again the surge in cases was accounted by the sudden imposition of curfew on weekend that left masses in panic buying necessities for them all over the country. Avoiding the full scale lockdown and merely focusing on weekend curfews as decided on a call between the Presidents of U.S. and Turkey, allowed infection cases to multiply inspite of being reducing. This left the Turkish economy in fragile condition on shaky grounds, and Turkish currency hit a historic low value of 6.95 lira to the U.S. dollar. Thus, the country of 82 million people was suffering from the worst economic crises because of the avoidance of a full scale lock down, which was a very much needed step to support the shattering economy. On Monday, following a 48 hour lockdown of major cities, Can Selcuki, the managing director of Istanbul Economics and Research told CNBC that;
“There will be hard times ahead, because Turkey was already at a macro-economically vulnerable position before the coronavirus hit.” he said, most non-essential businesses had closed and tourism had evaporated. “Unemployment in January was already 14% and it will probably increase greatly due to the foreclosures because of the coronavirus.” The MD also self-isolated himself.
Since the beginning of April 2020, Turkey began registering more than 3000 new cases of coronavirus per day. Turkey than became country with the ninth highest number of corona cases globally. After a month i.e. at the end of April, according to the reports Turkey started recovering from the pandemic. The daily coronavirus fatalities dropped for six straight days and the same was with the number of intubated and intensive care unit patients, they also continued to decline. Since then Turkey began to normalize after two months of lockdown with stepped-up safety and hygiene measures in place for containing the new coronavirus. Turkey started providing aid to the world i.e. countries like as U.K. and U.S. After Trump mentioned that U.S car companies are producing ventilators but they are lacking a part which is crucial for manufacturing of those devices, Trump sought Turkey’s support. Turkey produced thousands of ventilators, face masks, gowns and other protective materials for U.S. in the mid of May.
Turkey is among the very few countries of the worlds who acted swiftly to control the pandemic. And the response proved much successful. Nevertheless such a befitting response would never have been possible if the government had not taken such preventive measures and of course the support of masses was crucial. In such circumstances timely imposition of lockdown and informing the public timely and strictly reinforcing the preventive measures was the most important critical step to strategically control the pandemic. So, Turkey’s response to the pandemic was a successful one.