Turkey says it's still 'free of coronavirus'

Turkey says it's free of coronavirus after allegations of 'outbreak cover-up'
2 min read
10 March, 2020
No cases of coronavirus have been reported in Turkey, the country's health minister reported.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca [Getty]
Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus in the country on Monday, after allegations the government was covering up an outbreak of the disease.

After a meeting with the science council regarding the coronavirus, Koca said that ministry is taking all measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering Turkey.

Turkey tested 1,363 suspected cases for the coronavirusbut none resulted positive, he said.

Koca advised Turks living abroad - especially in Europe - "not to go out unless necessary" and told those coming from abroad to self-quarantine for 14-days.

He credited the prevention of the spread of coronavirus in Turkey with a decision to close borders with neighbouring Iran early on, where almost 50,000 people per week enter normally.

Turkey also suspended air and land travel with countries such as China, Italy, and South Korea.

Additional precautions included implementing thermal screenings at Istanbul Airport, a hub between Europe and Asia and used by millions during transit.

Last weekend, Turkey's General Directorate of Security announced that it would be investigating any form of misinformation spread regarding coronavirus in the country.

Any social media posts "sparking fear" in Turkey would be investigated, the directorate said in an official statement.

COVID-19 has been found in most of Turkey's eight neighbours – Iran, Azerbaijan, Greece, Iraq, Bulgaria, Armenia, and Georgia.

Turkish Medical Association Chair Professor Sinan Adiyaman, told a Turkish news site that there is "mistrust among the citizens against the health ministry".

"It is definitely thought to exist in Turkey and some rumours are spreading. For example, there has been a rumour for a week that 29 Mayıs Hospital [in Ankara] is in quarantine. But that hospital continues its routine work," Adıyaman said.

There has also been suspicion over Turkey's test kits, used to detect the virus. Turkish officials claim that the kit provides results in 90-minutes and has the highest accuracy in the world.

Koca said that Turkey it is not seeking help from other countries regarding the coronavirus threat but is willing to lend a hand.

Turkish media has reported that several dozen countries - including Italy, South Korea and Iran - contacted their embassies in Ankara to request consultations on Turkey's experience in containing the virus.

According to a report, Azerbaijan, Djibouti, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Turkmenistan and Vietnam have been in talks with the Turkish health ministry about purchasing the testing kits.