Understanding COVID-19 in Turkey

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey has been fighting COVID-19 since March. It quickly started enforcing strong restrictions and social distancing practices. This has contributed to a decline in the number of new cases per day in Turkey. On April 20, 2020, there were 4,674 new cases and by April 29, 2020, the number of new cases dropped to 2,936. By, May 5, 2020, new cases dropped even further to 1,832. As of May 21, the country had more than 153,000 active cases and more than 4,000 deaths.

The Situation in Turkey So Far

Citizens who have symptoms can go to a hospital for testing and observation by the Turkish Ministry of Health for 14 days. The government even put a weekend curfew in place from Friday to Sunday until after the Ramadan Bayram (Eid al-Fitr). COVID-19 in Turkey has closed nonessential businesses. Places that are still open require people to wear a mask or face covering, including grocery stores, places of work and public transportation.

On April 24, 2020, the Republic of Turkey received a $100 million loan from the World Bank for “an Emergency COVID-19 Health Operation” as part of its “$14 billion global Fast Track Facility” to fight the virus. This loan allows Turkey to respond better to its citizens and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It further improved the system in which cases are detected and treated.

President Erdogan announced a new plan on May 4 that will slowly bring the country back to normalcy as they deal with COVID-19 in Turkey. The plan was announced after a cabinet meeting and involves a step-by-step system that will slowly ease restrictions across the country. However, a majority of the rules will remain, especially in big cities and heavily populated areas. Here is what the next couple of weeks will look like for the country.

Turkey’s Timeline of Lifting Restrictions

  • The government will require people to wear face masks in public until 2021.
  • On May 11, hair salons, shopping malls and some stores reopened. However, social distancing is required and the number of people allowed at a time will be limited.
  • Senior citizens have been on lockdown and banned from going outside since March 21, 2020 to prevent the spread of the virus. As of May 10, people 65 years old and older are allowed outside. As of May 13, children under the age of 20 are also allowed outside. Both groups are restricted to four hours, one day per week between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • As of May 15, people 15-20 years old are allowed outside

Traveling in Turkey

The government has relaxed its entry, exit and inter-province travel restrictions in seven provinces – Antalya, Aydin, Erzurum, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin, and Mugla. But, the other 24 provinces will continue with their current travel restrictions. However, entry is restricted for those who have traveled to countries in Europe and Asia, including Iran, Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom, in the last 14 days. If they are a Turkish citizen/resident they can enter but are required to quarantine for two weeks.

As of May 11, 2020, Turkey was the ninth country with the most active COVID-19 cases. But, the future for COVID-19 in Turkey looks positive because of the actions the country took to prevent the spread of the virus. This has allowed the country to slowly start lifting restrictions as they try to return back to normalcy.

George Hashemi
Photo: Flickr

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