CORONAVIRUS COVID-19: Turkey is fun unless you have to live there

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey appears to be handling the coronavirus crisis relatively well, although its low case numbers reflect the low number of tests being administered. Pious Turkish Muslims are blaming dark anti-Turkish forces and, of course, the Jews for unleashing the virus on the world.

By BURAK BEKDIL
SOURCE: BESA (Perspectives Paper No. 1,501, March 24, 2020)

Turkey’s fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) is generally accepted to be rational, well-timed, not too badly planned, and fairly effective. At the time when the German case toll was 7,000 (and the Dutch and UK case tolls were at around 2,000 each), Turkey’s was just 98. And when, on March 19, the Italian death toll surpassed China’s at 4,400, the Turkish mortality figure was just three.

The government sealed borders—most significantly with Iran—just in time; cancelled all public gatherings and events, including football games; ordered most businesses to be shuttered; and launched an effective awareness campaign to keep Turks at home. About 3,000 Turkish pilgrims on their way home from Mecca were quarantined. The Turkish awareness rate of coronavirus was 100% by mid-March, according to one poll.

But several questions remain unanswered. Why did the Turkish religious authorities allow 21,500 people to travel to Mecca in the first place? Would it not have been safer for them to wait to fulfill their pilgrimage until after the world goes back to normal? And why were only 3,000 pilgrims quarantined? The other 18,500 returnees from Mecca are walking free in Turkey.

The question also arises: was the number of Turkish cases low because of government censorship? No, the “Turkish success” can be much more easily explained. The number of reported Turkish cases was low because the number of tests Turkey conducted was low. As of March 16, Turkey had performed just 2,800 tests (two tested positive out of a population of 83 million). Compare that to South Korea, which has performed 250,000 tests (8,100 tested positive out of a population of 51 million). It’s simple: if you don’t test people, you don’t put cases on the books.

Coronavirus in Turkey, like most things in that country, highlights the black humor in tragedy. As ever, Turkey is fun unless you have to live there. CONTINUE READING BY FOLLOWING THE LINK