COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey
The COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease was confirmed to have reached Turkey on 11 March 2020, after a man who had returned to Turkey from Europe, tested positive. The first death due to COVID-19 in the country occurred on 15 March 2020 and by 1 April, it was confirmed that COVID-19 had spread all over Turkey. On 14 April 2020, the head of the Turkish Ministry of Health Fahrettin Koca announced that the spread of the virus in Turkey has reached its peak in the fourth week and started to slow down.
|COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Arrival date||11 March 2020|
(2 months and 21 days)
|Ministry of Health|
As of 1 June 2020[update], the total number of confirmed total cases in the country is over 164,800 of which 129,000 have recovered and 4,600 have died. On 18 April 2020, the country's total number of Covid-19 tests resulted positive surpassed those of Iran, making it the highest in the Middle East. Turkey also surpassed China in confirmed total cases on 20 April 2020. The rapid increase of the confirmed cases in Turkey did not overburden the public healthcare system, and the preliminary case-fatality rate remained lower compared to many European countries. Discussions mainly attributed these to the country's relatively young population and high number of available intensive care units.
On 12 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
On 10 January 2020, the Ministry of Health set up the Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board. It consists of 26 members specialized in fields such as chest diseases, infectious diseases and clinical microbiology. The number of board members later increased to 31 with the joining of experts and academics in virology, internal medicine and intensive care medicine. The board works out guidelines for the treatment by medicals and measures to be followed by the public, and updates them in context of the disease's course in the country.
On 24 January, Turkey's health ministry installed thermal cameras at the airports. The ministry also decided to subject any passengers arriving from China to additional screenings and quarantine anyone showing the symptoms of the coronavirus infection. The screenings were later expanded to include countries that reported a high number of confirmed cases. Other precautionary measures on the airports included infrared guns, disinfection at all customs gates and the handing out of free surgical masks and instruction leaflets. On 31 January, the Turkish government sent a plane to airlift 34 Turkish citizens, seven Azerbaijanis, seven Georgians and one Albanian from Wuhan. China ordered 200 million masks from Turkey in addition to Turkey's yearly production of 150 million masks.
On 1 February, Turkey announced its decision to stop all the flights from China. The border with Iran was closed on 23 February after the Iranian authorities didn't adhere to the advice of Turkey to quarantine the Iranian city of Qom. On the same day, Turkey announced its decision to stop all flights to and from Iran.
On 29 February, Turkey announced the termination of all flights to and from Italy, South Korea and Iraq. Soon after, the border with Iraq was also closed. The ministry also established field hospitals near the Iraq and Iran borders.
In the early hours of 11 March 2020 (UTC+03:00), the Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca announced that a Turkish man who had contracted the virus while travelling in Europe was the country's first confirmed coronavirus case. The patient had been placed in isolation at an undisclosed hospital, and family members of the patient were put under observation.
On 13 March, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca made an announcement via his official Twitter account, confirming that a relative of the first person infected with coronavirus had fallen ill with the disease and was taken under observation and necessary measures were taken. In the evening, it was announced that three additional family members had tested positive for coronavirus, and thus the number of confirmed cases in Turkey rose to five. Later in the evening, Koca announced that the number of confirmed cases rose to six, with a pilgrim who recently returned from Umrah testing positive. The flight ban to passenger planes was extended with countries like Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and Sweden.
According to the statement made by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, 5,392 out of 10,330 citizens who returned from Umrah were quarantined in state dormitories in Ankara while the remaining 4,938 were quarantined in Konya. On 15 March, Koca announced that the number of confirmed cases increased to 18, with 7 of the new cases originating from Europe and 3 cases originating from the United States. The Ministry of the Interior announced that venues like pavilions, discotheques, bars and night clubs will be closed. A day later, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs announced a nationwide ban on prayer gatherings in mosques.
On 16 March, Koca announced that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 47, with new cases originating from the Middle East, Europe and the United States. The Directorate of Communications announced that President Erdoğan would head a comprehensive coordination meeting on Wednesday to discuss plans for combating the new type of coronavirus and inform the public about the results afterwards. On 17 March, Minister Koca reported a death from the coronavirus, an 89-year-old patient, while the number of confirmed cases rose to 98.
On 18 March, Minister Koca announced the second death from coronavirus, a 61-year-old male patient. Koca further stated that the number of confirmed cases rose to 191 with 93 new cases. The Turkish Medical Association, TTB Specialist Associations, Public Health Experts Association, Turkish Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Association, Turkish Thoracic Society, and Turkish Intensive Care Association had a meeting on 17 March to evaluate the developments regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. In their paper, released on 18 March, they concluded that the pandemic poses significant dangers for healthcare workers and patients, adding that deficiencies in information and precautions have caused confusion, and insufficient information on drug use, lack of access to tests, and various other issues have made it difficult to combat the pandemic.
On 19 March, it was reported that former commander in chief of the Turkish Army Aytaç Yalman who recently returned from Iran died of coronavirus disease on 15 March 2020, aged 79. Later that day, one person had tested positive for coronavirus, and 45 co-workers and their family members were quarantined in Çeşme district of İzmir Province. In a statement published on his Twitter account, Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca announced that an 85-year-old woman had lost her life, adding that there were 168 new confirmed cases.
On 20 March, the Ministry of Health issued an order to declare all hospitals with at least two specialists in infections, pulmonology, internal medicine and clinical microbiology, including private and foundation hospitals, as coronavirus pandemic hospitals. The Human Rights Association, Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Association of Lawyers for Liberty, Contemporary Lawyers Association, and Health and Social Service Workers Union of Civil Society in the Penal System, also published a statement on the COVID-19 outbreak and urged for immediate action in prisons. In their article, they emphasized on informing the public, especially family and lawyers of prisoners, about quarantine practices and the health status of prisoners.
On 23 March, at a press conference, Koca announced that a drug called Favipiravir, which was reported by Chinese authorities to be effective in treating the disease, was imported and started to be administered to intensive care patients. Koca also announced that healthcare workers would be paid an additional fee on their paychecks for 3 months. On the same day, Fatih Terim, a famous Turkish association football manager and former player, was diagnosed with the COVID-19.
In a press conference jointly organized by Minister of Health and Minister of National Education on 25 March, it was announced that the number of patients in the intensive care unit was 136 and two patients over 60 years of age were discharged from the hospital. It was added that data regarding the new confirmed cases in Turkey would be published in digital format.
TÜRK-İŞ leader Ergün Atalay issued a written statement on 31 March, demanding the banning of layoffs and asked for stopping all works for at least 15 days except those offering essential goods and services. Atalay stressed the necessity of the rapid introduction of the Unemployment Insurance Fund to address the issue of the loss of income, and added that all workers who suffer loss of employment and income should have their provisional income support by their employer, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the state. DİSK, KESK, TMMOB and TTB launched a signature campaign on 31 March to enforce seven emergency measures. During this period, they believed that "Works should be terminated immediately during the epidemic in all sectors except those providing basic, compulsory and urgent goods and services. Dismissals should be prohibited during the epidemic, small tradesmen should be supported, employees should be given paid leave, and unemployment support should be provided for the unemployed. Consumer, housing and vehicle loans and credit card debts and electricity, water, natural gas and communication bills should be postponed during the epidemic without future interests."
On 1 April 2020, Minister Koca confirmed that there were 2,148 new cases and 63 more deaths. The total number of cases increased to 15,679 and the death toll reached 277. The total number of tests performed so far was 106,799. At the same time, it was announced that there were confirmed cases for the first time in all 81 provinces and there were deaths reported in 39 provinces. The province with the highest number of cases and deaths was Istanbul with 8,852 cases and 117 deaths. It was followed by İzmir with 853 cases and 18 deaths, and Ankara with 712 cases and 7 deaths. He also stated that 601 healthcare workers were infected and 1 doctor had died.
On 3 April 2020, Minister Koca stated that the total number of confirmed cases increased to 20,921 and the total number of deaths to 425. Koca said 74.4% of patients in intensive care also had at least one additional disease and asthma was the major risk for patients with COVID-19. The Istanbul Chamber of Physicians suggested that the figures given by the Ministry of Health were based on cases that test positive for PCR, and do not include the number of 'suspected / possible cases' among inpatients or outpatients. The Chamber of Physicians also criticized the practices carried out in private hospitals in Istanbul. On the same day, the government announced a 15-day entrance ban to the 30 metropolitan municipalities. Also, the curfew was extended to people younger than 20 years old. Using masks in public places became mandatory.
On 4 April 2020, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Yavuz Selim Kıran announced that the death toll of Turkish expatriates who lost their lives to COVID-19 reached to 156. Kıran tweeted that 55 in France, 31 in Germany, 22 in Netherlands, 16 in UK, 14 in Belgium, 7 in US, 5 in Sweden, 3 in Switzerland, 2 in Austria and 1 in Lebanon died because of the disease.
On 6 April 2020, it was reported Erdoğan had stated that the Turkish government was building two new hospitals to accommodate some 2,000 or more patients at airports in Istanbul. From this day on, Turkish citizens can request masks free of charge via the website of the Turkish postal service PTT and the government. The free service does not apply to young people under the age of 20 and the elderly (65+), because a curfew applies to those age groups. Other residents are entitled to receive five mouth masks delivered at their home per week.
On 10 April 2020, at a special meeting among the members of the Turkic Council, President Erdoğan expressed hopes for overcoming the pandemic, "Of course we will win this war. The adoption of such a movement will make our council more visible and increase its global strength." On the same day, 98 more people died and 4,747 new cases were confirmed. The number of confirmed cases and the death toll increased to 47,029 and 1,006 respectively.
On 19 April 2020, the number of confirmed cases in Turkey surpassed those of Iran, making it the most affected country in terms of cases in the Middle East. Turkey also surpassed China in confirmed cases on 20 April.
The IMM Scientific Advisory Board shared the results of their meeting on 3 May and announced that 7 + 4 days of curfew covering 16–26 May should be announced to stop the spread of the virus at the end of Ramadan. They also shared an explanation on the risks of starting an early normalization process: "The plateau provided was achieved as a result of our people's compliance with the restriction directives that have been carried out. This goodness should not bring relief or temporary relaxation in measures. In the report prepared by the IMM Scientific Advisory Board, the transition period in the restrictions was defined in phases and what kind of transition process was required was detailed."
On 4 May 2020, President Erdoğan made a press statement after the cabinet meeting. He stated that the number of active cases is now decreasing, the number of patients in need of intensive care and respiratory equipment is constantly decreasing and the number of patients recovering is increasing exponentially. He further stated that in the campaign launched for fighting COVID-19 in Turkey ₺1.9 billion were collected. Explaining that the return to normal life will happen gradually, Erdoğan stated that they made the regulations regarding the gradual stretching of the restrictions to be imposed through several steps in May, June and July. The explanations for this normalization process were as follows:
- People over the age of 65 can go out in one day of curfew and for 4 hours.
- On the condition that the rules are followed, shopping malls will start to operate on 11 May.
- Children up to the age of 14 can go out on 13 May between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm with social distancing in force.
- People aged 15–20 will be able to go out with social distancing between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm on Friday, 15 May.
- The city entry-exit limitation will be terminated for Antalya, Aydın, Erzurum, Hatay, Malatya, Mersin and Muğla.
- Military discharge procedures will begin on 31 May.
- The appointment, assignment and personnel recruitment activities of the Ministry of National Defense will start on 1 June, followed by summons operations on 5 June, and paid military service will resume on 20 June.
- On 5 May, even and odd license plate rules for limiting movement across the cities will end for commercial taxis in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir.
- Barbershops, hairdressing and beauty saloons, etc. will be opened on 11 May.
- High School Entrance Exam (LGS) will be held on 20 June and Higher Education Institutions Exam (YKS) will be held on 27–28 June.
On 6 May 2020, Fahrettin Koca spoke about the normalization process in Turkey. Describing the new phase with loosened restrictions as "controlled social life", Koca stated that the outbreak in Turkey was now under control but the risk continues and that citizens should not give up measures. Koca also said that the assumption that everything would "return to normal" is not true. Stating that their aim in the first phase was to control the disease, he explained that in this second and new phase, their aim was to eliminate the opportunities for the spread of the disease and rearrange life standards. Minister Koca also referred to the "Hayat Eve Sığar" mobile application developed by the ministry to help its users identify and avoid places potentially affected by the disease and abide by the social distancing rules using Bluetooth and other services. He stated that more than 40 million people have accessed the application, which includes the free delivery of a pack of 5 masks every 10 days, and added that 160 million masks has been distributed to date. Koca also announced that they would increase the number of tests instead of decreasing them. Regarding the Turkey Football Federation's decision to start the league, he stated that responsibility for any consequences would be with the federation. He also talked about a new study conducted by the ministry and TÜİK to determine the severity of outbreak in Turkey by testing 150,000 individuals using PCR and antibody measurements.
On 7 May 2020, the price ceiling for surgical masks was set at ₺1. Through a handbook published on the same day, it was announced that barbers, hairdressers and beauty saloons will not be able to accept customers without masks and preexisting appointments, and that nobody other than customers and employees can be present at the workplace.
On 8 March, the Ministry of National Education announced that they were using special disinfectants to keep schools clean against the virus threat. Minister Ziya Selçuk said that every surface open to contact at the schools is being sanitised, noting that vocational schools producing 100 tons of disinfectants daily supply the disinfectants for schools.
Minister Selçuk organized a press conference on 12 March and announced that disinfection would be carried out in all schools after the closure. He said that the weekly curriculum would be structured and the necessary training and education support would be provided by EBA on the Internet and TRT on television, and they had taken whatever measures that were necessary to prevent interruptions and delays in educational programs.
On 12 March 2020, after a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the rest of the Turkish government, Press Secretary İbrahim Kalın announced that all schools in Turkey would be closed starting from 16 March 2020 for a week. Universities would also remain closed for three weeks. Sports matches would be played behind closed doors in the stadiums until the end of April. The president also postponed all his overseas visits.
On 17 March, Minister Selçuk visited TRT studios where content relating to the new distance education format was prepared, and stated that the new process was being reviewed to the finest detail, and that the planning and infrastructure preparations would be completed by the week of 23 March. Selçuk stated that the first lesson using this training technique would be given by him.
The remote classes for primary, secondary and high schools started on 23 March 2020 on TRT EBA TV, a channel created through the collaboration of TRT and the Ministry of Education. At the press conference held on 25 March, Minister Selçuk announced that remote teaching would continue until 30 April.
On 26 March, President of the Council of Higher Education, Yekta Saraç, stated that there would be no in-person teaching at universities in the remainder of the spring semester, and that they would continue with remote education only. He added that the programs, courses and practical courses that could not be offered with distance education and digital education would be completed in the summer months. He announced that the Higher Education Institutions Exam was postponed to 25–26 July. In a message published by the Minister of National Education Twitter on 27 March, it announced that subjects that were set to be covered during the second semester were removed from the Higher Education Institutions Exam. It was also announced on 27 March that the Public Personnel Selection Examinations were postponed to September, October and November.
On 29 April, Ziya Selçuk announced that the interval previously announced for remote education was extended until 31 May.
On 4 May, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the High School Entrance Exam (LGS) will be held on 20 June and the Higher Education Institutions Exam (YKS) will be held on 27–28 June.
On 18 May, Erdoğan announced that the schools which were expected to open on 1 June will remain closed and the 2019-2020 Academic Year has officially ended. He added that the new academic year will begin in September 2020.
Travel and gathering restrictions
The Grand National Assembly of Turkey announced that no visitors would be accepted to parliament between 13–31 March. On 13 March, Turkey announced its decision to stop all flights to and from Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands starting from Saturday at 08.00 am until 17 April. On the same day, Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül announced that meetings in all open and closed prisons, the use of family meeting rooms and transfers between prisons were delayed for two weeks.
On 14 March, following a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the two countries temporarily stopped land and air transportation. On the same day, Turkey and Georgia announced their mutual decision to close the Sarpi Border Gate.
On 15 March, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced that between 16 and 30 March all libraries in Turkey would be closed. The Ministry of the Interior announced that pavilions, discotheques, bars and night clubs would be closed temporarily starting from 10:00 on 16 March.
On 16 March, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs announced a nationwide ban on prayer gatherings in mosques, including Friday prayers, due to the pandemic. Later that day, the Ministry of the Interior also sent a notice on coronavirus precautions to the 81 provinces of Turkey, temporarily closing all public gathering places such as cafes, gyms, Internet cafés and movie theaters, except shops and restaurants not offering music, starting midnight the following day. Fahrettin Koca announced that Egypt, Ireland, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the UK were added to the list of countries for which the flight ban was imposed.
On 19 March, the Directorate of Religious Affairs issued a circular to be sent to the provincial muftis, stating that mosques would be kept closed on Friday. The Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu announced that football, volleyball, basketball and handball leagues were postponed.
On 20 March, through a presidential statement, it was announced that all kinds of scientific, cultural, and artistic meetings or activities were postponed until the end of April. Free public transportation for people 65 years of age or older was temporarily suspended in Balıkesir, Konya and Malatya. Horse racing games were postponed until a second announcement is made in the future.
On 21 March, the Ministry of the Interior reported that, with the circular it sent to the 81 provincial governorships, military farewell ceremonies were temporarily suspended. In addition, it was announced that the activities of barber shops, hair dressers and beauty parlours were to cease by 6:00 pm. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry banned barbecuing in gardens, parks and promenades. The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure announced that as of 5:00 pm flights to 46 more countries had stopped, thereby cutting air transport with 68 countries in total. The Ministry of the Interior announced a total curfew for those who are over the age 65 or chronically ill. The announcement further stated that starting from midnight, restaurants, dining places and patisseries were to be closed to the public for dining in, and were only allowed to offer home delivery and take-away. Additionally, free public transportation for people over 65 was temporarily suspended in Ankara, Antalya and İzmir.
On 23 March, it was decided that the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul would remain open between 10.00 am–4.00 pm, however, entry and exit would be controlled, and allowed only through two doors. On the same day, the Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu announced that the number of people coming from abroad and quarantined at home was 11,269.
On 24 March, the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement, announcing that markets could serve customers between 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, adding that the number of customers in every store needed to be limited to one tenth of its original number based on its area. In addition, it was announced that public transportation vehicles that work in and across the cities could fill up only 50% of their capacity with people at a time.
On 27 March, the Ministry of the Interior issued a new statement regarding gatherings during weekends, announcing that starting from 28–29 March, having picnics, fishing at the shores, doing physical exercise outside (including running and walking on the weekends in city and town centers) would be banned until the virus spread has been contained. It was also stated that, should they deem it necessary, local authorities may extend these new measures to weekdays. On the same day, with the advice of the Ministry of Health, Kendirli town in Rize and Yeniselimiye, Beştepe, Esentepe and Maltepe villages close to the town were quarantined to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also on 27 March, President Erdoğan announced that all international flights were terminated, adding that intercity travel was subject to permission by the state governors, and that places such as picnic areas, forests and historical sites would be closed on the weekend.
On 3 April 2020, President Erdoğan announced a 15-day entry ban to the 30 provinces with metropolitan status as well as Zonguldak. Also, the curfew was extended to people younger than 20 years old. Using masks in public places became mandatory. However, with the additional circular issued and sent to all provinces, exceptions to this ban were determined. According to the new order, procedures involving health care assistance, funerals, military and passenger transports would be exempted from the ban, provided that certain conditions were met.
In the late hours of 10 April, through an order issued by the Ministry of the Interior, curfews were declared for the upcoming weekend in the 30 provinces with metropolitan status and Zonguldak, starting from 12:00 am on 11 April and lasting for 48 hours. Upon announcement of the ban 2 hours ahead of its start, people lined in front of bakeries and markets.[excessive citations] A number of incidents and quarrels took place among the people who were waiting in line in different locations. As a result of criticism on social media and major news outlets, Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu announced his intention to resign, which was rejected by the president. On 13 April, President Erdoğan announced in an address that until further notice such curfews would be in force also during subsequent weekends.
On 18 March, President Erdoğan urged public to stay at home and not to visit hospitals outside emergency cases. Erdoğan further stated that public banks will deliver pensions to retirees above the age of 76 to their homes, with the minimum amount of payment for retired people being ₺1,500. A ₺100 billion economic measures package was also announced by the government to address financial issues of companies and low-income households. With this package the government promised to raise the Credit Guarantee Fund (KGF) limit, postpone tax liabilities, SGK premium payments and credit debts of employers in sectors most affected by the crisis, and make a resource transfer of ₺2 billion to families in need, among other measures.
The announced economic measures package, set to be provided by the government, was criticized by institutions and individuals, including economists and politicians. The lack of a detailed action plan was the center of criticism. Additionally, at a time when people were encouraged to stay at home, the government was criticized for allowing airline passenger transport and tax reductions that support tourism. Critics asked for lowering the down payment of housing loans and emphasized on the need to provide employment support to different sectors.
On 22 March, by presidential order, all bankruptcy and financial executionary proceedings were stopped until 30 April, except for obligations regarding alimony and child support. Additionally, through a second statement issued by the President, public institutions and organizations were ordered to allow for alternating and flexible schedules and enforce remote working if possible. The Banks Association of Turkey also sent a notice to different banks across the country and limited their working hours to 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm, which went into effect on 23 March 2020.
On 30 March, President Erdoğan announced the initiation of a donation campaign called "We're Enough for Each Other Turkey" (Turkish: Biz Bize Yeteriz Türkiyem). While the campaign was supported by representatives of the ruling party, members of the oppositions had a less favorable reaction to it. As of 1 April 2020, the campaign had raised ₺552 million. After the government's decision to take money from the income of several institutions in order to make donations to this campaign, the Confederation of Public Employees' Unions filed a criminal complaint as a result of the salary cuts of the staff of many institutions such as MEB, BOTAŞ, General Directorate of Forestry, Ministry of Justice, Supreme Court and Social Service Provincial Directorates. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate donated ₺300,000 and the Istanbul Syriac Foundation ₺100,000.
- last updated: 8 May 2020
|Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey||₺100,000,000|
|Ziraat Financial Group||₺62,300,000|
|Turkey People's Bank Inc.||₺56,000,000|
|Turkey Foundations Bank||₺50,000,000|
|Turk Telecommunication Inc.||₺40,000,000|
|Eti Bakır Joint-stock Company||₺24,000,000|
|Turkcell Technology Research and Development Inc.||₺20,000,000|
|Kuveyt Türk Participation Bank Inc.||₺20,000,000|
A donation campaign initiated by the metropolitan municipalities with CHP administration was terminated by the Ministry of the Interior and their bank accounts were blocked. Regarding this decision, the Ankara Bar Association issued a statement, saying: "Although the aforementioned circular and blocking process enforced by the Ministry of the Interior are clearly unlawful, the provision of social services belongs neither exclusively to the local governments nor to the central government."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish parliament accepted a bill which could enable the release of up to 100,000 prisoners, including people responsible for deaths. However, the law excludes Turkey’s around 50,000 political prisoners, including journalists and human rights defenders, who are said to remain jailed despite overcrowding and unsanitary living conditions already posing severe health threat.
Detainment and misinformation
Law enforcement agencies detained 19 people for creating panic and fear in society by using "fake" images and audio files in social media and targeting officials/officers with "unfounded and provocative" posts and "by suggesting that the virus had spread widely in Turkey and that officials had taken insufficient measures", according to the officials. Some foreign newspapers considered these actions to be censorship. As of 6 April, at least seven journalists, who were each reporting for local media, were detained for how they covered the pandemic, and the state media watchdog had fined at least three channels for their coverage of the outbreak, including the mainstream channel Habertürk, which was penalized after its medical expert stated that the low level of testing and the high rate of transmission of the virus meant there were many undiagnosed cases, greatly exceeding the government's confirmed case figures.
Repatriation of citizens abroad
More than 60,000 Turkish nationals have been repatriated from 75 countries since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on 25 April. After landing in Turkey, the citizens follow mandatory health checks and are put in a 14-day quarantine in line with the country’s measures to stem the spread of the virus.
During the pandemic, Turkey provided medical aid to other countries to assist in fighting the coronavirus. This help includes face masks, protective overalls, test kits and sanitiser gels.
On 1 April, an Airbus A400M Atlas cargo plane of the Turkish Air Force carried aid to Spain and Italy as part of efforts of NATO allies to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Reports said the medical supplies donated by Turkey to Spain and Italy consisted of personal protection equipment and disinfectants, including 450,000 masks. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed this example of NATO solidarity in action by saying he was “proud to see NATO Allies supporting each other through our disaster relief center.” Turkey sent the medical supplies after Italy and Spain had requested assistance via NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Center, which is the alliance’s principal disaster response mechanism.
On 14 April, Turkey delivered 250,000 items of personal protective equipment to Brize Norton air base for medical staff in the United Kingdom; including 50,000 N-95 face masks, 100,000 surgical masks and 100,000 protective suits.
On 22 April, Turkey's top religious authority said the country will provide aid to people in 35 countries during Ramadan, the Muslims’ holy fasting month. The directorate will distribute 38,450 food packages and 46,000 packages of other aid for fast-breaking iftar dinners and that provide clothes to 11,000 orphans.
On 28 and 30 April, the Turkish Air Force delivered critically needed personal protective supplies to the United States, with an A-400 aircraft landed at the Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, as a gesture of support and a part of allied solidarity. The supply included 500,000 surgical masks, 4,000 overalls, 528 gallons of disinfectant, 1,500 goggles, 400 N-95 masks, and 500 face shields. With these shipments, the number of countries Turkey sent assistance has reached to 55, including 15 NATO allies and 21 NATO partner countries.
Refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants
The welfare of Turkey's 3.6 million Syrian refugees, along with its 370,000 asylum seekers and an additional number of irregular migrants, is considered to be a particularly acute challenge for Turkey, as these populations are particularly vulnerable to contracting and spreading the disease, with the associated risks being geographically heterogeneous.
Together, refugees, irregular migrants, and asylum-seekers surpass 5 million, mostly residing in towns and major cities, with only 2% in camps. In Istanbul and Şanlıurfa, one in five refugees lack access to clean drinking water, and one in three lack access to hygiene items. Living quarters are crammed, and 45% of Syrian refugees in Turkey live in poverty, 14% in extreme poverty. Syrian refugees and asylum-seekers have the legal right to basic health services, however Tekin-Koru writing for CEPR Public Policy notes on the contrary that, according to a 2019 Doctors of the World report, 23% of refugees do not actually have access to healthcare services in urban areas, while in rural areas that figure is 58%. While Turkish citizens receive face masks free of charge, refugees do not. Irregular migrants, meanwhile, are often afraid to seek services for fear of being detained.
Because only 3% of refugees in Turkey have official work permits, and as such they were typically the first workers to be sacked. Syrians are often employed in jobs that cannot be done remotely. Although the Turkish parliament banned sackings of workers for three months and offered $6 monthly for those forced to take unpaid leave, none of these were applied for migrants and refugees. By March 30, as aid for refugees began to collapse, refugees were reported by The Independent to be found sleeping on the streets, and relying on the kindness of strangers.
In the context of heightened conflict in Syria's Idlib province (causing fears that many of its 2.7 million inhabitants could join the millions of Syrian refugees already in Turkey) and the unpopularity of the government's prior refugee policy, President Erdoğan announced in late February that he would not longer "block" refugees and migrants' "access to the border", and opened the border with Greece. Turkey's government was then accused of pushing refugees into Europe for political gain. Greek border guards pushed the migrants back, and there are videos of Turkish security forces in uniform and plain-clothes firing tear gas at Greek forces and a Turkish armored vehicle attempting to pull down the border fence by tugging on an attached cable as migrants tried to breach the border fence. The Turkish-Syrian border, near Idlib, is meanwhile sealed by the world's second longest border wall, and with Turkish guards using lethal force to keep it closed.
Turkey's top Muslim scholar and Minister of Religious Affairs, Ali Erbaş, said in a Friday Ramadan announcement that country condemns homosexuality because it "brings illness," insinuating that same sex relations are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan backed Erbaş, saying that what Erbaş "said was totally right."
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (May 2020)
While in 2019, a poll estimated that 83.2% of Turks wanted all refugees returned, the pandemic caused a further rise of xenophobia and anti-refugee sentiment in Turkey.
|Date||Confirmed cases||Deaths||Recoveries||Severe cases||Number of tests||Ref|
|11 March 2020||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||[c]|
|12 March 2020||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—|||
|13 March 2020||4||5||5||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—|||
|14 March 2020||1||6||6||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—|||
|15 March 2020||12||18||17||1||1||0||0||—||—||—||—|||
|16 March 2020||29||47||46||0||1||0||0||—||—||—||—|||
|17 March 2020||41||98||96||1||2||0||0||—||—||—||8,002|||
|18 March 2020||93||191||188||2||3||0||0||—||—||2,015||10,017|||
|19 March 2020||168||359||355||1||4||0||0||—||—||1,981||11,998|||
|20 March 2020||311||670||661||5||9||0||0||—||—||3,656||15,624|||
|21 March 2020||277||947||926||13||21||0||0||—||—||2,952||18,604|||
|22 March 2020||289||1,236||1,206||9||30||0||0||—||—||1,738||20,345|||
|23 March 2020||293||1,529||1,492||7||37||0||0||—||—||3,672||24,017|||
|24 March 2020||343||1,872||1,802||7||44||26||26||102||136||3,952||27,969|||
|25 March 2020||561||2,433||2,348||15||59||0||26||—||—||5,035||33,004|||
|26 March 2020||1,196||3,629||3,528||16||75||0||26||—||—||7,286||40,290|||
|27 March 2020||2,069||5,698||5,564||17||92||16||42||241||344||7,533||47,823|||
|28 March 2020||1,704||7,402||7,224||16||108||28||70||309||445||7,641||55,464|||
|29 March 2020||1,815||9,217||8,981||23||131||35||105||394||568||9,982||65,446|||
|30 March 2020||1,610||10,827||10,497||37||168||57||162||523||725||11,535||76,981|||
|31 March 2020||2,704||13,531||13,074||46||214||81||243||622||847||15,422||92,403|||
|1 April 2020||2,148||15,679||15,069||63||277||90||333||692||979||14,397||106,799|||
|2 April 2020||2,456||18,315||17,544||79||356||82||415||783||1,101||18,757||125,556|||
|3 April 2020||2,786||20,921||20,012||69||425||69||484||867||1,251||16,160||141,716|||
|4 April 2020||3,013||23,934||22,647||76||501||302||786||909||1,311||19,664||161,380|||
|5 April 2020||3,135||27,069||25,453||73||574||256||1,042||935||1,381||20,065||181,445|||
|6 April 2020||3,148||30,217||28,242||75||649||284||1,326||966||1,415||21,400||202,845|||
|7 April 2020||3,892||34,109||31,802||76||725||256||1,582||987||1,464||20,023||222,868|||
|8 April 2020||4,117||38,226||35,568||87||812||264||1,846||995||1,492||24,900||247,768|||
|9 April 2020||4,056||42,282||39,232||96||908||296||2,142||1,017||1,552||28,578||276,338|||
|10 April 2020||4,747||47,029||43,600||98||1,006||281||2,423||1,062||1,667||30,864||307,210|||
|11 April 2020||5,138||52,167||48,101||95||1,101||542||2,965||1,021||1,626||33,170||340,380|||
|12 April 2020||4,789||56,956||52,312||97||1,198||481||3,446||978||1,665||35,720||376,100|||
|13 April 2020||4,093||61,049||55,796||98||1,296||511||3,957||1063||1,786||34,456||410,556|||
|14 April 2020||4,062||65,111||58,909||107||1,403||842||4,799||1,087||1,809||33,070||443,626|||
|15 April 2020||4,281||69,392||62,200||115||1,518||875||5,674||1,052||1,820||34,090||477,716|||
|16 April 2020||4,801||74,193||65,461||125||1,643||1,415||7,089||1,040||1,854||40,427||518,143|||
|17 April 2020||4,353||78,546||68,146||126||1,769||1,542||8,631||1,014||1,845||40,270||558,413|||
|18 April 2020||3,783||82,329||69,986||121||1,890||1,822||10,453||1,054||1,894||40,520||598,933|||
|19 April 2020||3,977||86,306||72,313||127||2,017||1,523||11,976||1,031||1,922||35,344||634,277|||
|20 April 2020||4,674||90,980||75,410||123||2,140||1,454||13,430||1,033||1,909||39,703||673,980|||
|21 April 2020||4,611||95,591||78,414||119||2,259||1,488||14,918||1,006||1,865||39,429||713,409|||
|22 April 2020||3,083||98,674||79,821||117||2,376||1,559||16,477||985||1,814||37,535||750,944|||
|23 April 2020||3,116||101,790||80,808||115||2,491||2,014||18,491||982||1,816||40,962||791,906|||
|24 April 2020||3,122||104,912||80,575||109||2,600||3,246||21,737||929||1,790||38,351||830,257|||
|25 April 2020||2,861||107,773||79,485||106||2,706||3,845||25,582||900||1,782||38,308||868,565|||
|26 April 2020||2,357||110,130||78,185||99||2,805||3,558||29,140||883||1,776||30,177||898,742||[d]|
|27 April 2020||2,131||112,261||75,570||95||2,900||4,651||33,791||882||1,736||20,143||918,885|||
|28 April 2020||2,392||114,653||72,852||92||2,992||5,018||38,809||845||1,621||29,230||948,115|||
|29 April 2020||2,936||117,589||70,468||89||3,081||5,231||44,040||831||1,574||43,498||991,613||[e]|
|30 April 2020||2,615||120,204||68,144||93||3,174||4,846||48,886||803||1,514||42,004||1,033,617|||
|1 May 2020||2,188||122,392||65,326||84||3,258||4,922||53,808||818||1,480||41,431||1,075,048|||
|2 May 2020||1,983||124,375||62,780||78||3,336||4,451||58,259||778||1,445||36,318||1,111,366|||
|3 May 2020||1,670||126,045||59,497||61||3,397||4,892||63,151||766||1,424||24,001||1,135,367|||
|4 May 2020||1,614||127,659||56,032||64||3,461||5,015||68,166||727||1,384||35,771||1,171,138|||
|5 May 2020||1,832||129,491||52,686||59||3,520||5,119||73,285||707||1,338||33,283||1,204,421|||
|6 May 2020||2,253||131,744||49,958||64||3,584||4,917||78,202||669||1,278||30,303||1,234,724|||
|7 May 2020||1,977||133,721||47,096||57||3,641||4,782||82,984||665||1,260||30,395||1,265,119|||
|8 May 2020||1,848||135,569||45,483||48||3,689||3,412||86,396||653||1,219||33,687||1,298,806|||
|9 May 2020||1,546||137,115||43,896||50||3,739||3,084||89,480||628||1,168||35,605||1,334,411|||
|10 May 2020||1,542||138,657||42,180||47||3,786||3,211||92,691||598||1,154||36,187||1,370,598|||
|11 May 2020||1,114||139,771||40,150||55||3,841||3,089||95,780||578||1,126||32,722||1,403,311|||
|12 May 2020||1,704||141,475||38,692||53||3,894||3,109||98,889||576||1,045||37,351||1,440,671|||
|13 May 2020||1,639||143,114||37,447||58||3,952||2,826||101,715||535||998||33,332||1,474,003|||
|14 May 2020||1,635||144,749||36,712||55||4,007||2,315||104,030||508||963||34,821||1,508,824|||
|15 May 2020||1,708||146,457||36,269||48||4,055||2,103||106,133||490||944||38,565||1,547,389|||
|16 May 2020||1,610||148,067||35,834||41||4,096||2,004||108,137||474||906||42,236||1,589,625|||
|17 May 2020||1,368||149,435||35,333||44||4,140||1,825||109,962||468||914||35,369||1,624,994|||
|18 May 2020||1,158||150,593||34,845||31||4,171||1,615||111,577||463||903||25,141||1,650,135|||
|19 May 2020||1,022||151,615||34,521||28||4,199||1,318||112,895||455||882||25,382||1,675,517|||
|20 May 2020||972||152,587||34,378||23||4,222||1,092||113,987||445||877||20,838||1,696,355|||
|21 May 2020||961||153,548||34,309||27||4,249||1,003||114,990||424||820||33,633||1,729,988|||
|22 May 2020||952||154,500||34,113||27||4,276||1,121||116,111||401||800||37,507||1,767,495|||
|23 May 2020||1,186||155,686||33,776||32||4,308||1,491||117,602||388||775||40,178||1,787,673|||
|24 May 2020||1,141||156,827||33,793||32||4,340||1,092||118,694||385||769||24,589||1,832,262|||
|25 May 2020||987||157,814||33,430||29||4,369||1,321||120,015||371||756||21,492||1,853,754|||
|26 May 2020||948||158,762||32,858||28||4,397||1,492||121,507||338||739||19,853||1,873,607|||
|27 May 2020||1,035||159,797||32,573||34||4,431||1,286||122,793||331||723||21,043||1,894,650|||
|28 May 2020||1,182||160,979||32,149||30||4,461||1,576||124,369||339||683||33,559||1,928,209|||
|29 May 2020||1,141||162,120||31,668||28||4,489||1,594||125,963||324||662||36,155||1,964,364|||
|30 May 2020||983||163,103||31,604||26||4,515||1,021||126,984||308||649||39,230||2,003,594|||
|31 May 2020||839||163,942||31,429||25||4,540||989||127,973||287||648||35,600||2,039,194|||
|Confirmed cases||Deaths||Recoveries||Severe cases||Number of tests|
Total confirmed cases, Active cases, Active severe (ICU inc. intubated) cases, Total deaths, Total recovered cases
New cases per day
Deaths per day
Recoveries per day
Case fatality ratio
New cases per active cases (since 100th case)
Case growth factor (since 100th case)
New deaths per active cases (since 100th case)
Death growth factor (since 100th case)
Daily test positivity ratio (since 100th case)
Tests per day (since 100th case)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey.|
- Data and maps, frequently updated:
- "Coronavirus Turkey updates and news" [Latest news and statistics of coronavirus in Turkey.] (in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Estonian, and Russian). Retrieved 4 April 2020.
- Government-issued information: