Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed that the country can overcome the coronavirus pandemic with as little damage as possible within the time frame of two to three weeks.
Addressing the nation in a televised speech yesterday, Erdogan called on Turks to practice patience and support for the government’s actions and said that Turkey is prepared for every possible scenario.
“By breaking the speed of the virus’ spread in two to three weeks, we will get through this period as soon as possible and with as little damage as possible,” he said.
He made assurances that “bright days await us, so long as we adhere [to] the warnings, remain cautious and careful,” adding that “every citizen’s life is equally valuable to us. That is why we say, ‘Stay at Home, Turkey’.”
The president also expanded on the economic situation and the implications caused by the outbreak, assuring workers, traders, and craftsmen that the government will always stand by them. In order to support the population – particularly low-income families – he said that the unemployment fund and credit guarantee fund would be strengthened.
He said that 7 billion liras ($1.08 billion) would be allocated and provided to support workers who earn a minimum wage, and 1,000 liras ($155) will be provided to 2 million low-income families while the minimum pension will be increased to 1,500 liras ($233).
The recruitment of 32,000 new professionals in the health sector will also be carried out, as well as the provision of 6 million liras ($930,000) to companies which locally produce sanitary materials such as disinfectants masks, and protective clothes. In order to conduct further tests on the Turkish population, he said that “one million fast test kits will come into use in a short period.”
Up until two weeks ago, Turkey was one of the few countries remaining that had no reported cases of coronavirus infections, but since the first Turk was infected after returning from Europe, numbers in the country have shot up to over 2,400, with 59 having died from the virus so far.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus worldwide earlier this year and its spread across the Middle East, countries in the region have implemented strict measures such as mandatory curfews, the closure of schools and public institutions.
Congregational prayers at mosques are no longer being held and prisoners have been released in order to prevent them from becoming infected and spreading the virus within prisons.
International travel to countries particularly vulnerable to the virus with high rates such as in Europe and Iran has also been forbidden by the Turkish government.
Hopeful assurances such as Erdogan’s two to three weeks, as well as US President Donald Trump’s view that the lockdown in his country will be lifted by Easter (12 April), have been speculated on by many due to predictions that it could take months at least for the outbreak to die down.