Covid-19 Pandemic in Turkey
In December 2019, World Health Organization started reporting pneumonia cases in Wuhan city, capital of Hubei province of China, the cases of which were, in 5 January 2020, declared to be caused by a coronavirus strain that has never seen in humans. Initially named as 2019-Ncov, this disease is renamed as COVID-19 as it is a coronavirus originated in 2019. Declared in 12 March 2020 as a global pandemic by World Health Organization, this pandemic has been continuing to physically, psychologically, socially and economically threat and affect people in Turkey and across the globe for more than one year. As of 14 March 2021, a total of 119,220,681 verified COVID-19 cases have occurred all over the world, including 2,642,826 deaths as reported by World Health Organization. By 9 March 2021, a total of 300,002,228 vaccine doses have been administered across the world (WHO, 2021).
In Turkey, by April 2021 when this report is drawn up, daily number of cases were recorded as approx. 56,000 during April 2021 (Turkish Ministry of Health, 2021) The measures taken in Turkey against COVID-19 virus during and after the challenging first-six months of pandemic are provided below in chronological order (BBC, 2020);
January 2020 » A Scientific Committee is established to provide advisory to Government on the pandemic. » An operation center is establish at Ministry of Health to fight with virus. » Ministry of Health prepared the first COVID-19 Guide. » Stricter measures put at Airports in place.
February 2020 » Suspended all flights to/from China and animal import. » Suspended all flights to/from certain countries. » Suspended all air, rail, road transportation to/from with neighboring countries with increasing rate of cases.
March 2020 » Declared the first COVID-19 virus case. » Shut down bars, night clubs, theaters, movie theaters, gyms and cafes. Suspended the collective prayer at mosques. Made two-week quarantine mandatory for everyone returning from abroad. » Suspended education at schools, held sports competitions without spectators, public officers started to go abroad with permission. » Added Most European countries to the flight restrictions. » All private hospitals were also declared as pandemic hospital April 2020: » Started publishing the distribution of cases by the TURKISH RED CRESCENT COMMUNITY-BASED MIGRATION PROGRAMS HEALTH AND PSYCHOSOCIAL SUPPORT PROGRAM COVID-19 Pandemic and Migrants cities. » Started travel restrictions to 30 metropolises and city of Zonguldak. » Started lockdown with certain criteria.
May 2020: » Continued lockdown measures but relaxed certain criteria. » Declared lockdown during religious and public holidays. » Opened houses of prayer for prayer with certain conditions.
June 2020: » Re-opened the venues such as restaurants, cafe, park, coffee houses, swimming pools, gyms, spa centers, except for hookah cafe and entertainment venues, as a process of re-normalization. » Initiated re-normalization process for domestic and international flights. » Initiated re-normalization process progressively. » In the outstandingly challenging six months of Covid-19 pandemic, Turkey has taken strict measures in order to forestall the spread of the virus. » The daily average number of new case was around 1,600 in the period from June to October, which has started to rise by November. Additional measures were imposed in November 17th to the new normal rules.
November 2020 and Following Months » As of 20 November 2020, some measures have been taken to be implemented on weekends. » Curfew restrictions started to be applied on weekends except 10.00 - 20.00. » Started to implement stay-at-home restrictions, other than 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM weekends. » Decided on holding school education online until end of the year, that were in semester break. » Decided on extend the stay-at-home restrictions imposed on people older than 65 to the youth younger than 20 who are not working. » Decided on closure of the movie theaters until the end of year. » Permitted restaurant and cafe to remain open 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, while they are permitted to provide home delivery services. » Suspended activities of the sports fields, continued the sports competitions without spectators.
January - February 2021 » After the additional measures taken in November, the increase continued in December, and the number of new cases per day reached 33,189 on December 8. The same measures have been continued with.
In January and February, the number of new cases followed a decreasing momentum and the approximate number of new cases decreased to 8,000.
March 2021 » As of March 2, according to statistics on the basis of cities and cities in Turkey, the above measures are tightened from time to time and reshaped according to the “new normal” rules from time to time. Currently, lockdown measures are in place from 9:00 PM to 5:00 AM in the cities falling in the low and moderate risk group, while the lockdown measure covers entire weekend in the cities falling in the high risk group.
However, as the cases has entered in uptrend all over the country, said restrictions are currently being implemented in almost all cities.
April 2021 The number of new cases has exceeded 55,000 as of April 19. After the first decision of half-closure, , full closure was decided across the country. Lockdown was succeed at 19:00 on Thursday, April 29 and last until 05:00 on Monday, May 17. In this context, the following measures have been taken. » Face-to-face education has been suspended in all institutions, including kindergartens and kindergartens, and all exams were postponed. » In the curfew, markets, grocery stores, greengrocers, butchers and dried fruits shops operate between 10.00 and 17.00. » Chain markets are closed on Sundays and continued to serve at the specified times on other days. » Except for organizations that are exempted in areas such as production, manufacturing, food, cleaning, health, all workplaces have suspended their activities, and the package service will continue in the food and beverage sector » All intercity travels are subject to permission and intercity public transport vehicles operate at 50% capacity.
After the closure decision taken in April, the daily number of new cases gradually decreased and fell below 10,000 as of May 20. Gradual normalization measures were implemented between 17 May and 1 June. » In gradual normalization period, curfews were imposed from 21.00-05.00 on weekdays and from 21.00 on Friday to 05.00 on Mondays on weekends. » The curfew has been lifted for citizens aged 65 and over who have had two doses of Covid-19 vaccine and for those under the age of 18. » Our citizens aged 65 and over who are not vaccinated although they have the right to be vaccinated can only go out between 10.00-14.00 on weekdays and are subject to full-time curfew on weekends. » The ban on intercity travel has been lifted for periods and days when no curfew is applied. » Kindergartens and kindergartens continued between May 17 and June 1, 2021, but face-to-face training has not been started for other levels. » Restrictions on collective events continued.
Number of new cases decreased to 7,000.
In the first stage of the gradual normalization process, new decisions were taken in addition to the relevant decisions or existing decisions were changed in the second stage. » Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 22:00 - 05:00; On Sundays, a curfew is imposed, starting at 22:00 on Saturday, covering the entire Sunday and ending at 05:00 on Monday. » On the specified days, between 07:00 and 21:00, the restaurants can provide service by following the distance rules, with table service, pick-up and takeaway. » Activities that require collective participation are organized in the open area on the condition that certain importance is observed. » Citizens aged 65 and over who are not vaccinated despite having the right to be vaccinated can only go out between 10:00 and 14:00 on other days except Sundays.
In Turkey, a total of 4 million migrants, consisting in 3.6 Million Syrian citizen, and approx. 330,000 other Migrants and migrants of other nations, is living (Directorate General of Migration Management, Date of Data: 07.04.2021). Taking the unregistered individuals into account, this figure is estimated to be over 4 million. In order to respond the migration crisis, Turkish Red Crescent opened its first Community Center in Şanlıurfa in 20 January 2015. Currently, 17 Community Centers, located in Şanlıurfa, İstanbul (Anatolian and European Side), Konya, Ankara, Kilis, Bursa, İzmir,
Adana, Zonguldak, Mersin, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kayseri,
Kahramanmaraş, Kocaeli and Mardin, are serving to migrants and local community.
The key objective of Community-Based Migration Programs is to make sustainable contributions to the community resilience by empowering the physical, psychological, social and economical well-being of communities and individuals.
Community Centers carry out activities such as adaptation to Turkey training (information on the legal rights and humanitarian services), Turkish language courses, vocational trainings, personal and group psychological support activities, group therapies, personal therapies, psychiatric examination and drug treatment service, drama, music classes and workshops for children, activities for children and youthfriendly areas, health information and referral activities, information meetings for women, handicrafts, dressmaking, arts and design courses, employment referral, field activities (assessment of needs, etc.), case followup, protection, etc.
As of July 2019, a project has been initiated under the name of “Strengthening Mental Health Project” (SMHP) with technical and financial support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Red Cross and with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Turkey. It aims at treating psychological disorders, increasing access to mental health services, and promoting the social and psychological, well-being of individuals who has gone through difficult situations Within the scope of the project, teams consisting of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, child development specialists, psychiatric nurses and interpreters give services to local and migrants communities in 12 Community Centers located in 11 distinct cities,
Istanbul European and Anatolian Sides, Bursa, Izmir, Adana, Ankara, Kayseri, Konya, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Mersin and Şanlıurfa. The services are psychopharmacotherapy, (Medicine Treatment), supply of prescribed drugs, psychotherapy, child development counseling, developmental screening, support groups, trainings, seminars and home visits.