Turkey Implements COVID-19 Measures to Reassure Expats

Published April 19th, 2020 - 10:45 GMT
Turkey Implements COVID-19 Measures to Reassure Expats
Turkish healthcare system treats everyone equally, Jelassi highlighted how testing and treatment for COVID-19 is offered free in hospitals. (Shutterstock)
Highlights
Islamic Development Bank regional head says Turkey's experience with quakes, past conflicts help it stand firm amid crisis

The swift measures Turkey took to stem coronavirus along with the country's sound healthcare system serve as a reassurance to foreign residents of the country, said a prominent foreign banker living in Turkey.

"Turkey has shown an exemplary reaction to the pandemic by mandating school breaks, mostly switching to remote working, and closing restaurants and entertainment centers, while taking the associated economic costs of these decisions," Salah Jelassi, regional manager at the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group’s Regional Hub in Turkey, told Anadolu Agency.

"Such measures gave the expat community the additional security and an assurance that the government of the host country is serious about this, and this was a relief to all of us," he added.

Saying that Turkey was lucky to have the virus reach it later than its neighbors, Jelassi said this gave both Turkish citizens and expats the chance to get psychologically ready for the pandemic.

He underlined that Turkey moved swiftly to tackle the crisis.

"Of course the economic repercussions of this pandemic have put certain restrictions on the abilities of governments to react,” he explained.

Resilience in the face of crisis 

Underlining that Turkey’s robust healthcare infrastructure is one of its outstanding features, Jelassi said its healthcare sector has shown a unique resilience not been seen in many other countries.

"The massive investments in Turkey’s health sector, as well as the proven resilience in dealing with earthquakes and certain past conflicts, have enabled the Turkish system to gain the resilience that we are seeing today," Jelassi explained, implicitly referring to such experiences as the 1999 Marmara earthquake and Turkey’s anti-terror efforts.

He also praised the country's steps to offer free face masks to the public through the mail and in pharmacies, a step taken while other countries have faced shortages of protective masks.

Jelassi also pointed traditional Turkish cultural ties seen in keeping in touch with neighbors or family members, assisting the elderly, and encouraging the protection of the most vulnerable groups of society.

"Even in the midst of this pandemic crisis, we can see numerous fine touches of Turkish hospitality, like seeing some bakeries distributing free bread amongst the needy in Ankara, adding beautiful colors of hope to this dark pandemic," Jelassi said.

Stating that the Turkish healthcare system treats everyone equally, Jelassi highlighted how testing and treatment for COVID-19 is offered free in hospitals.

"This is a very clear move by the Turkish authorities assuring everyone that no one is left behind," he said.

Such timely decisions by Turkish authorities have helped control feelings of panic or hysteria usually associated with times of crisis, he added.

Uninterrupted online learning 

Touching on Turkey's moves to continue education during the lockdown, Jelassi said the country's internet infrastructure has been strong enough to ensure there are no disruptions in access during peak hours when all students are online for distance learning.

"My school-age son is living with us, so we’ve personally witnessed the good internet infrastructure," he explained

The Islamic Development Bank Group, headquartered in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has come up with a comprehensive $2.3 billion package to assist member countries' efforts to prevent, contain, mitigate, and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jelassi

He told how last week the bank sent 30,400 diagnostic test kits from Turkey to Kyrgyzstan and is currently working "round the clock" to accommodate similar requests from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Jordan.

The coronavirus death toll in Turkey reached 1,890 as of Sunday, with 82,329 cases to date, according to the country's Health Ministry.

After first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the infection has spread to 185 countries and territories.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has surpassed 2.33 million while the death toll is nearing 161,000 and some 598,000 people have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University.


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