The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, originally surfaced in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, in December 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) described the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in late January and declared it to be a pandemic on 11 March 2020.
The new coronavirus pandemic also sparked fierce debates among philosophers, historians, political scientists and others, who still attempt to answer the following questions: Will the COVID-19 outbreak mark the death of capitalism and globalization? Will the arguably unprecedented experience of social distancing, self-isolation and Zoom meetings change the way people live or work? What does the international response to the pandemic, or lack thereof, tell us about the future of multilateralism and the rules-based order?
Having experienced a broad range of political, financial and security issues over the last decade, Turkey took precautionary measures against the coronavirus pandemic in due time and, today, finds itself in a strong position to adapt to changing circumstances in the international arena. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership, the country invested billions of dollars in civilian infrastructure to significantly improve the quality of public services, including free and universal healthcare and social security.
Building on this tradition of excellence, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration responded to the coronavirus outbreak without delay and, per the Scientific Advisory Board’s recommendations, continues to manage the crisis in a transparent, rational, and responsible manner.
Turkey’s ability to prevent coronavirus infections among its citizens for several weeks enabled it to prepare for the eventual outbreak and made it possible for Ankara to assist over 30 countries, including China, Italy and Spain, in their respective fights against the coronavirus. At the same time, the Turkish government evacuated tens of thousands of Turkish citizens from pandemic-stricken countries around the world, successfully prevented shortages of food, cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), and took steps to start the serial production of ventilators within days. As a contributing member of the international community, Turkey maintains that humanity cannot overcome the COVID-19 challenge or cope with its economic and other impacts in the absence of multilateralism, international cooperation, and solidarity.