Details sparse as first coronavirus case reported in Turkey

Turkish health officials announced the first recorded case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Turkey during a late night press briefing Tuesday. Speaking in Ankara, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said a male patient tested positive for the virus after traveling to Europe and that people with whom he came in contact had been placed in quarantine.

“The coronavirus is not stronger than the measures we will take,” Koca said in effort to reassure the public. “A quarantined patient cannot threaten society.”

Citing patient privacy policies, Koca did not share the patient’s whereabouts or further details about the case. Up until the announcement, Turkey had remained free of confirmed cases as the disease spread in neighboring states.

According to the World Health Organization, five other countries reported their first cases of COVID-19 in the last 36 hours, including Brunei, Mongolia, Cyprus, Guernsey and Panama. At the time of reporting, WHO estimates at least 4,012 deaths have been linked to the disease worldwide, with 113,702 confirmed cases reported since the first diagnosis in December.

Speaking to Justice and Development Party deputies on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Turkish patient remained “in good health” and advised vulnerable citizens to avoid crowded places.

Erdogan said new preventative measures would be taken including the use of thermal cameras in public spaces as train service was canceled Wednesday between Istanbul and the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. Though the WHO praised the proactive steps as “vigilant, cautious,” Turkish medical experts have called for increased public testing and greater transparency.

Read the full story on Al Monitor.