The global death toll is now over 4,900, with more than 134,000 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has declared the outbreak “a global pandemic.”

It is a term that the organisation had refrained from using before now.

A pandemic describes an infectious disease that is spreading between people in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was now using the term because of deep concern over “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus.

With no vaccine or treatment that can prevent it yet, containing its spread is vital. 

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.

COVID-19 in Turkey

Turkey confirmed its second case of Coronavirus this morning. The affected person is close to the first person diagnosed.

Turkey confirms 2nd coronavirus case

Turkey set up a task force of experts following the first emergence of the outbreak, repeatedly issuing new warnings and unveiling ever more stringent measures in the fight against the virus. 

Turkey announced its first confirmed case of Covid-19 on Wednesday, ending weeks of speculation over whether the tourism and travel hub with a large refugee population would be able to avoid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The patient was a Turkish national who had recently returned from Europe, the health minister Fahrettin Koca said early on Wednesday. The man, his family and others who had come into contact with him are currently in quarantine in a specially designated hospital unit. The health minister did not provide any more details, citing the patient’s right to privacy.

Turkey increases precautions over coronavirus

Turkey is taking all necessary precautions against the novel coronavirus in line with an “urgent course of action” plan produced by the Health Ministry and Science Committee.

International Travel

The Health Minister has issued coronavirus travel advisory for the public stating that Turkish citizens should avoid international travel unless absolutely necessary.

“Our citizens who were planning to go abroad should either cancel their travel plans or postpone it. The risk is serious,” he said at a news conference following a scientific committee meeting in capital Ankara.

Government personnel arriving from abroad are being directed to hospitals to undergo quarantine and have been granted 14 days’ leave from work from the time of their arrival.

GOV:UK Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance for British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Please remember that foreign residents living in Turkey need to stay up to date with advice given by the Turkish Ministry of Health.

Fethiye Times is currently liaising with the British Embassy and the Fethiye Governor for an update on advice for Foreign Nationals living in Turkey.

“Let’s postpone hugging and kissing for a while”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called for people to avoid close contact. “You know there is a coronavirus outbreak in the world. Let’s postpone hugging and kissing for a while,” Instead of shaking hands, instead he places his hand over his heart, explaining his actions by simply saying: “Corona!”

School closures

Elementary and secondary schools will go on an early spring break for a week on March 16, while universities will be closed for three weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. From March 23, all students will receive online education through the internet and TV. The education minister will announce further details on the distance learning program for elementary and high school students.

No spectators at sports competitions

All sports competitions will be held without spectators until the end of April, a measure already seen in other countries in Europe and other parts of the world.

Disinfecting public places

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
A worker disinfects a playground in Gaziantep, Thursday, March 12, 2020. (AA Photo)

Turkish cities are carrying out disinfection work in public places and mass transit vehicles as well as installing hand sanitizing units in bus stations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has praised Turkey’s measures against the coronavirus outbreak.

WHO basic protective measures against the new coronavirus

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. 

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds..

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Avoid crowded places unless absolutely necessary.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Practice good respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.

Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

Symptoms of COVID-19

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.

People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Further resources

Worldometer – COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak

World Health Organization – Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19)

GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK government response

Sources: Sabah/WHO/Worldometer