Coronavirus, control on contagion in frontier

Coronavirus: Turkey closes its borders by land and sea with Europe

Authorities continue to announce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, which has already claimed 3 deaths in Turkey, and plan to conduct thousands of tests to detect the virus.

Turkey has closed its land and sea borders with Europe through Greece and Bulgaria and prohibited the entry and exit of people as a last measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the country, where the latest figures updated by the Turkish Minister of Health confirm three deaths from COVID-19 and 191 infections, almost double the previous day.

As reported by the state news agency Anatolia, from March 19th the entry into Turkish territory of Greek or Bulgarian citizens by land or by sea is prohibited; furthermore, citizens of other countries that have been in Greece or Bulgaria in the last 14 days will also not be able to enter Turkey. Only in Greece the number of infected exceeds 400 and there have been at least 6 deaths from the disease.

In addition to closing the Pazarkule and İpsala land border crossings – as well as the rail crossing through Uzunköprü – the ban also affects road connections between Turkey and the Greek islands of the Aegean; Dereköy, Hamazbeyli and Kapıkule border crossings with Bulgaria will also be closed. However, the borders will remain open for the transit of goods.

New measures in public spaces in Turkey

The country woke up on Thursday with the new measures announced late Wednesday by Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan, who asked citizens to stay home to curb the coronavirus, after in previous days the authorities had already decreed the suspension of classes in colleges and universities and the closing of bars, cafes, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, temples and other public and leisure places.

This Thursday, however, the Ministry of Health announced new measures for the restaurants, which for now are not affected by the ban, although they keep their activity under minimums because the streets are deserted. These measures include increasing the separation between the tables to more than 1 metre, and in fact recommending increasing it to 2 metres.

In addition, the windows of the rooms and any closed spaces must remain open during daily cleaning and must remain open for at least one hour to promote ventilation and air regeneration. Particular attention should be paid to cleaning frequently touched surfaces, such as door knobs, handrails, buttons, telephones, bathrooms and sinks.

Likewise, other common elements such as glasses and dishes should be washed with water and detergent after each use and stored in clean spaces. Lastly, personnel must take extreme care in cleaning their hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, otherwise using disinfectant gel. If symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath are detected, they should leave the place as soon as possible.

More measures against COVID-19 on the way

Despite the fact that they have not been affected by the restrictions so far, the Turkish Health Minister, Fahrettin Koca, recently assured that he does not rule out that the next measures also could decree the closure of restaurants and shopping malls, and additional ones such as the reduction of working hours in supermarkets.

Koca reported Thursday that between 10,000 and 15,000 daily tests will be carried out across the country to detect suspected cases of contagion by the new virus, especially among the 372,000 Turkish citizens who recently arrived in Turkey from abroad; in addition, the number of detection laboratories, currently in 25 cities, will increase to 36.

A new detection test developed in Turkey capable of diagnosing the presence of the coronavirus much faster will also be distributed in the next two days. Despite everything, the minister stressed that Turkey “has taken more radical measures ahead of time compared to other countries,” thus reducing possible infections by three times.