Turkey reported its first two deaths related to the coronavirus pandemic and announced its confirmed cases surged to 191.
Turkey’s president on Wednesday said the government had mobilised all resources and vowed to eliminate the threat as soon as possible. He announced a $15.4bn fiscal package to help protect the economy from the fallout from the contagion.
“The responsibility lies on every citizen of our nation,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in his first press conference on the COVID-19 outbreak. “I wholeheartedly believe that, with God’s help and our nation’s support, we will emerge stronger from this difficult period rather than stumble or fall.”
He said the government will distribute protective masks and cologne, which has natural disinfectant properties, to citizens above 65 years of age in Istanbul and Ankara.
Erdogan added Turkey was making rapid efforts to develop a vaccine.
“Such outbreaks have had severe consequences around the world, and have even been the triggers for major political, social, and economic transformations,” he said. “We are entering a new era, one in which we are likely to see radical changes in the global economic, political, and social order.”
Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca said on Wednesday a 61-year-old male patient died. He announced late Tuesday an 89-year-old person also died after contracting the virus from someone who had “contacts with China”, where the new coronavirus was first detected late last year.
Koca added Turkey had diagnosed 93 more cases throughout Wednesday. “The big majority of those who tested positive are recovering,” he said.
Turkey’s vice president said more than 2,800 Turkish nationals were brought home at their request from nine European countries Ankara barred entry from to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Fuat Oktay said on Twitter the evacuation was completed at 6am local time (03:00 GMT), adding the 2,807 nationals will be put under 14-day quarantine in large dormitories located in the Istanbul and Kocaeli provinces.
Turkey last week closed its border gates to passengers from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands.
‘No travel ban, curfew, emergency’
Meanwhile, the head of Turkey’s communications directorate on Tuesday dismissed rumours that Ankara would impose of a state of emergency or curfew and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus.
“Such comprehensive restrictive steps are not on our agenda,” Fahrettin Altun told state-run Anadolu agency.
Altun said the measures taken against coronavirus continue in “a very transparent, determined and rational manner”.
Amid growing coronavirus fears in Turkey, the Turkish lira weakened 0.8 percent against the US dollar on Wednesday, after having hit its weakest point since September 2018 the previous day.
The lira stood at 6.45 to the dollar by 07:00 GMT, weaker from Tuesday’s close of 6.3985, which was off that day’s weakest level of 6.4945. The lira has lost about 7 percent of its value against the dollar this year.
Turkey’s benchmark Borsa Istanbul’s BIST 100 stock index dropped 2.31 percent, or 2,001.17 points, on Wednesday to start the day at 84,776.51 points.