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Turkey's President Erdogan donates seven-months salary to combat coronavirus

Erdogan launched the aid campaign to combat the coronavirus [AFP]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2020

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would donate seven months worth of his salary toward a National Solidarity Campaign to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pledged to donate seven months of his salary towards an Covid-19 aid campaign, designed to tackle an outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.

The Turkish leader made the announcement on Monday and encouraged other politicians, citizens and businessmen to follow his lead, following a meeting with officials to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I am launching the campaign personally by donating my seven-month salary," Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his address to the nation, according to state news agency Anadolu.

The National Solidarity Campaign has garnered some 5.2 million Turkish liras ($791,000) in donations from cabinet members and lawmakers, the Turkish leader added.

Read also: Turkey detains 11 over 'coronavirus-themed' house party amid global pandemic

"Turkey is rapidly opening new hospitals, while also strengthening existing ones,” he said. "Our goal is to reach serious results by the end of the year."

The Covid-19 virus, which was first detected in China's Wuhan province in December, has killed more than 40,633 people worldwide with over 823,200 infections confirmed.

The majority of those infected with the virus experience only mild or moderate symptoms, that may include a fever and dry cough.

As of yet, there are no known treatments for the virus, though more than 174,333 have already recovered from the infection.

Turkey has confirmed 10,827 cases of the novel coronavirus, which has also killed 168 people in the country.

The Turkish economy was healing after a recession when the new coronavirus struck. If left Ankara scrambling to contain the damage with stimulus measures worth billions of dollars, but still facing calls to do more.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced earlier this month a $15 billion package to support the economy, with tax cuts for businesses and measures to help low-income households.

While business leaders and analysts agreed Ankara's measures would benefit companies, experts warn that it could lead to high unemployment and low growth.

They also pointed out the possible devastating impact on tourism which employs hundreds of thousands of people.

The concern is that before the outbreak, the economy was growing only tentatively after a currency crisis in 2018.

Moody's ratings agency said among the G20, it expected Turkey "to be hit the hardest, with a cumulative contraction in second- and third-quarter GDP of about 7 percent" in 2020.

But as recently as 19 March, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said he did "not see any risks to the economy for now" and was still aiming to meet the ambitious target of five percent growth for 2020.

"The shock will likely take a large toll on tourism-related sectors through the summer," Moody's added.

Last year, tourism income rose 17 percent to $34.5 billion while the number of visitors increased nearly 14 percent to about 52 million.

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