Covid-19 arrived late in Turkey. The first case of infection was registered here on 19 March. But soon it spread to every corner of the country. Within a month, Corona had spread to all 81 provinces of the country.
Here the fastest corona infection was spreading in the world. Things were worse than China and Britain. There were apprehensions that there would be deaths on large scales and Turkey would also leave Italy behind. At that time Italy was the most affected country.
Three months have passed, but it is not so, even when Turkey has not implemented a complete lockdown.
In Turkey, officially 4397 people have been confirmed dead due to corona infection. Claims are being made that the actual number may be up to two times because in Turkey only those people whose death reports were positive were included in the death data.
But if compared to other countries, then this number is less for this country with a population of eight and a half crores.
Experts warn that it is difficult to arrive at any conclusion regarding the corona infection or to compare the figures of two countries, even when deaths are continuing in many countries.
But according to Dr. Jeremy Rossman, lecturer of virology at the University of Kent, “Turkey has postponed the destruction.”
Full lockdown was not implemented in Turkey.
He told a news channel, ‘Turkey is among the countries that responded very quickly, especially in terms of testing, identifying, isolating and stopping traffic. Turkey is one of the few countries that have managed to effectively reduce the speed of the virus.
When the speed of the virus was increasing, the authorities imposed various restrictions on everyday life. There was a ban on going to coffee houses, shopping stopped, mass prayers were stopped in mosques.
People above sixty-five years and under twenty years of age were completely locked up in lockdown. Curfews were imposed over the weekend and major cities were sealed.
Istanbul was the epicentre of the epidemic in Turkey. This city lost its pace, like a heart stops beating.
How does Turkey track the virus?
Now restrictions are gradually being relaxed, but Dr. Mele Noor Aslan still remains alert. She is the director of health services in Fatih district. It is a congested area in the centre of Istanbul. The energetic and talkative Dr. Aslan is leading the contact tracing campaign. There are six thousand teams like him all over Turkey.
She says it feels like we are on the battlefield. People of my team forget to go home, even after eight hours they keep working. They do not care to go home because they know that they are performing their duties.
Dr. Aslan says that he started tracking the virus from the very first day of March 11, in which his experience of tracking the measles disease was useful.
She says, “Our plan was ready. We just took our files out of the cupboard and we got to work.”
We joined two doctors in the narrow streets of Fatih. These doctors wearing PPE kits were using an app. They went to an apartment in a flat where two young women were in Quarantine. His friend Covid is positive.
In the corridor of the apartment, both women were tested for Covid, they will get the report within twenty four hours. He started showing mild symptoms a day earlier. 29-year-old Mazali Demir is thankful that she has received a quick response.
She says, “We hear news from abroad. Initially when we came to know about the virus, we were very scared but Turkey worked faster than we thought. It worked much faster than Europe or America.” “
Turkey used hydroxychloroquine
Dr. Irshad Sheikh, the acting head of the World Health Organization in Turkey, says that Turkey has many lessons for the world about public health.
In the beginning we were worried. Daily up to three and a half thousand new cases were coming. But testing did a lot of work. And people did not have to wait for five-six days for the results. “
He also attributed the success of Turkey to the contact tracing, quarantine and isolation policy of Turkey.
Turkey is using hydroxychloroquine to treat corona infections.
In Turkey, patients were also given hydroxychloroquine. US President Donald Trump praised it, but international research has rejected this drug.
The World Health Organization has stopped the trial of this medicine as a treatment for corona. A research paper published in the medical journal Lancet claimed that this drug increases the risk of cardiac arrest in Covid-19 patients and may cause more harm than benefit.
We were allowed to go to hospitals where thousands of people have been given hydroxychloroquine as medicine. Dr. Sehit Ilhan Waranka Hospital, built two years ago, remains the center of the fight against Covid.
Here Chief Nurettin Yeeyat says that it is important to use hydroxychloroquine in the beginning. The pictures of Dr. Yeeet are made on the walls of this new shiny hospital.
She says, ‘Other countries have started using this medicine lately, especially the US, we only use it
In days, we have no hesitation about this medicine. We think it is effective because we are getting results.
While visiting the hospital, Dr. Yeeit says that Turkey has tried to stay ahead of the virus. We have been treated at the beginning and have adopted an aggressive attitude.
In addition to hydroxychloroquine, doctors use drugs, plasma and large amounts of oxygen.
Dr. Yeeet is proud that the rate of death of Covid in his hospital has been less than one percent. Here beds are empty in intensive care unit ie ICU. They try to keep patients out of here and without ventilators.
We met forty-year-old Hakim Sukuk, who is now returning home after receiving treatment. He is a well-wisher of doctors.
He says, “Everyone has taken care of me a lot. It seemed like I am in my mother’s lap.”
But the fight is not over yet
The Turkish Medical Association has not yet given a clean chit to the government’s response to the epidemic. The association says that the way the government took steps on the epidemic, there were many shortcomings.
These include leaving the boundaries open.
Corona cases are increasing very rapidly in Turkey but no lockdown has been imposed.
Although the World Health Organization is giving some credit to Turkey, Dr. Sheikh says, ‘This epidemic is in its early days. We think many more people will be seriously ill. There is something that is going well.
Turkey also has many things in its fight against the Corona epidemic. For example, the young population and the greater number of ICU beds. But still about a thousand new cases are coming up every day.
Turkey is being seen as a story of success in the fight against Corona, but still needs to be cautious because this story is not over yet.