The key to Turkey’s success against the new coronavirus has been meticulous preparation and careful planning. The country started formulating its national response to the COVID-19 outbreak just days after China alerted the World Health Organization to several cases of unusual pneumonia in the Hubei province.
Upon receiving the news, the Turkish Ministry of Health immediately established its coronavirus operations center – before there were any confirmed cases in the pandemic’s original epicenter.
The Scientific Advisory Board was established 4 days later with a mandate to devising Turkey’s game plan. Chaired by Health Minister Dr. Fahrettin Koca, this group of 31 leading experts continues to guide the Turkish government’s crisis response today.
Among the Turkish government’s first steps to combat the coronavirus was to publish the first edition of a booklet on COVID-19 guidelines to share information with doctors and other medical staff about the disease.
At the same time, the Ministry of Health launched a nationwide public relations campaign to raise awareness about the coronavirus outbreak and inform ordinary citizens about ways to protect themselves.
Preventing infected individuals from entering the country and spreading the coronavirus was another top priority. For this purpose, the Turkish authorities, acting on the Board’s recommendations, installed thermal cameras and other equipment at ports of entry to monitor passengers arriving from China.
During this period, another source of concern was the possibility of Turkish citizens contracting the coronavirus abroad and bringing it into the country. The effort to mitigate that risk was successful thanks to cooperation among several ministries and public institutions under President Erdoğan’s personal supervision:
At the same time, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) Turkey Supports the Fight against the Coronavirus Outbreak, 93500 respiratory protective masks and 1000 pieces of single-use protective clothing to China with the help of the Ministry of National Defense.