Turkey announces first case as it claims to be model against coronavirus

Turkish media has pushed a narrative that the country has managed to keep the coronavirus at bay while neighboring countries are being infected.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, October 7, 2019 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan speaks at Esenboga Airport in Ankara, Turkey, October 7, 2019
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkey’s Health Ministry has been trying to reassure and prepare the public for an announcement that the country has its first case of the novel coronavirus. All week the ministry has been dodging questions and trying to pave the way for the announcement by noting that although Turkey has remained virus-free, it likely would have cases.
Turkey has sought over the last three weeks to fight the coronavirus by taking precautions such as reducing travel from Iran. In fact, Turkey was one of the first states to quietly warn about the Iranian outbreak in mid-February when Iranian officials were in denial. Turkish officials said on February 21 there were 750 suspected cases in Iran even as Tehran lied about its own numbers.
Meanwhile, Turkish media has pushed a narrative that the country has managed to keep the coronavirus at bay while neighboring countries were being infected. In fact, Turkey was one of the only countries in the Middle East to have no cases until March 11. Turkey’s pro-government media at Anadolu Agency and Daily Sabah praised the government for keeping the virus from crossing its borders.
It is a national cause of great concern. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who thrives on crises such as sending migrants to the Greek border or fighting in Idlib, did not want to deal with a health crisis as well.
Now that Turkey has dealt with Idlib and has also gotten European powers to agree to a new round of meetings about the refugee crisis – and received support from Western media, which have agreed to focus on Greece preventing migrants from crossing who had been sent to the border from Turkey – the time is opportune to speak about the virus. The narrative now shifts from Daily Sabah’s claim that Turkey is a leading example of how to remain virus-free to admitting that there is one case in the whole of the country.
A male citizen who had returned from Europe tested positive in the evening of March 10, according to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. Ankara said an early diagnosis of the man was made, although it is not clear when that happened. The Health Ministry said the virus should not be considered an epidemic and that there is only limited infection in Turkey. “The coronavirus is not stronger than the measures we will take,” the ministry said.
“A quarantined patient cannot threaten society,” the ministry said. It is urging citizens not to travel abroad and has warned that Europe is full of the virus. Turkey has planned the battle against the virus as a national struggle, one of many great battles the country claims to be waging, such as the one against terrorism, promising it will fight nationally against the global problem.
It is unclear if Turkey’s claims will correspond with reality. So far, claiming there are no cases of the virus has fed a Turkish media cycle that portrays the country as almost alone in the world in successfully defeating the coronavirus threat.


Tags Turkey Idlib