Expats: Turkey doing better against virus than Europe, but more needed

Longtime expatriate residents of Turkey find healthcare system and measures adopted early on reassuring in face of virus

Praising Turkey’s fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic as doing better than many European countries, local expatriates also told Anadolu Agency that more and further measures are called for.

Mark Richardson, the general manager of Istanbul-based Ventus Travel and Events, welcomed the recent start of weekend curfews across much of the country.

After a 48-hour curfew last weekend in 31 provinces representing over 75% of Turkey’s population, which met with widespread acceptance, this weekend, April 18-19, will see another curfew to help stem the virus’ spread.

Stressing the strength of the Turkish healthcare system and measures taken at the onset by the Health Ministry, Richardson said: “I believe they are better than other European countries. This position plays a huge part in easing our worry.”

He also underlined that although the social distancing guidelines seem to be working, the country should take further steps to ensure that many people follow them. The pandemic has completely changed people’s lives, said Richardson, especially as a person running a tourism sector business.

“Our bookings dropped overnight to zero, as expected in this type of pandemic,” he said.

Now that the schools are closed, Richardson spends most of his time with his 3-year-old son, he said. “The only time I leave the house is to take my dog for a walk in the morning and at night,” he added.

Noting that he does his shopping exclusively online, Richardson said once his orders are delivered, he washes everything that comes into the house with bleach and strips away as much of the packaging as possible.

“I’m very concerned as my son has asthma and we’re taking all steps possible to minimize contamination,” he underlined.

Free coronavirus treatment a plus for Turkey

Hailing the free COVID-19 treatment offered by Turkish hospitals, Tim Bright, a partner in Istanbul-based OneWorld Consulting, nevertheless said the number of people still on the streets of Turkey’s commercial capital is a cause for concern.

“It’s good that all the hospitals are working for the pandemic and that patients’ costs are covered by the government,” he said.

Bright praised how the delivery services — a cornerstone of pandemic survival for many — are working “very well” in Turkey, adding: “People in the U.K. are amazed that we can get deliveries in 20 minutes.”

“We’re very fortunate, and our lives haven’t been affected too badly by the virus yet,” he said.

He said he is enjoying the many theater and music programs that are now available online due to the virus.

But unlike for some, Bright stressed that remote workdays are very busy for him and his team, as they hustle to deliver executive searching, coaching, and outplacement projects online.

“Some work tasks take longer than they did before, so like a lot of people I’m working quite long hours, in lots of video conferences and calls with our clients and colleagues,” he explained.

‘Ensure people take guidelines seriously’

Chris Gaunt, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT), said he spends time self-isolating at his Istanbul home in line with WHO rules and practices social distancing when he ventures outside.

“We exercise in our garden, catch up on jobs, participate in webinars and virtual meetings,” Gaunt noted.

Saying that he shares experience with family and friends using videoconferencing applications, Gaunt stressed that they steer clear of misleading projections and comments on the virus from unqualified or unproven sources.

“We only listen to WHO experts and other evidence-based specialists from accredited sources,” he said.

Touching on Turkey’s containment measures, Gaunt said: “There needs to be more action taken to prevent the contagion spreading and ensure people take the WHO recommendations to stay at home seriously.”

Late Thursday, Turkey reported 125 more deaths from coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 1,643. The country also has 74,193 confirmed cases.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections have neared 2.16 million, with the death toll above 145,500, while more than 548,000 have recovered.

anadolu agency

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