Prof. Tezer Kutluk, MD PhD, FAAP, Dr. Fahad Ahmed, PhD and Meral Kirazlı

9 May 2020

Turkey faced the first COVID-19 case on March 10th.  Public awareness about the infection was not high until the first case was reported. On January 10th the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Turkey established the Scientific Board to advise the Government on COVID-19 outbreak.  On January 30th, WHO declared the emergency situation.  On March 11th, the day after the first case was reported in Turkey, WHO announced the outbreak as a pandemic. The MoH started to prepare and distribute the guidelines for health care professionals and the general public. When the first mortality was reported on March 17th, public awareness reached its highest level. Millions of Turkish people are listening to the daily live press conferences and latest updates from the MoH’s Dr. Fahrettin Koca. Listening to the MoH’s information has become routine for all people. At the beginning, the number of testing per day saw only a gradual increas. Turkey was then able to increase its testing capacity to more than 15000 test/day in early April to more than 30000 test per day in late April.

National and international travel restrictions, the closure of schools, the closure of restaurants, cancellation of  football games, meetings, partial stay home orders, and weekend lock-downs in major cities have been the major actions taken by the government. Use of surgical masks and maintaining social distance have been the major policies implemented to protect the people. Turkish companies are quickly ramping up their productions to address the growing demand of masks, personal protective equipment and respiratory ventilators during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The latest update as of May 9th shows;

Total number of tests from beginning           1334411

Total number of Corona positive cases          137115

Total mortality                                                    3739

Number of tests on May 9th 2020                  35605

Number of new cases on May 9th 2020          1546

Daily mortality on May 9th 2020                     50

Patients at ICU on May 9th 2020                     1168

Intubated Patients on May 9th 2020               628

Patient care has been re-organized with the postponement of elective examinations and surgeries. However, the treatment for non-corona life threatening health conditions have not been interrupted. Despite that apparently the diagnosis of new non-corona life threatening conditions is lower than the usual expected numbers. Universities have started to implement distant learning methodologies to adapt to this extra-ordinary situation. It is anticipated that by the second week of May, the number of new cases will started to decline and the government is planning to normalize everyday life by lifting some restrictions gradually.