Turkish hospitals prepare for COVID-19 outbreak, doctors brace for worst scenario

As infected cases of COVID-19 surge in Turkey, the country’s health officials introduced substantial measures to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, while doctors said that they are bracing for the worst situation.

In partial lockdown for a week, Turkey on Tuesday reported a total of 1,872 cases and 44 deaths, most of whom were the elderly.

Nearly 4,000 tests for the virus have been done in Turkey on Tuesday alone, the highest figure so far, with a total of some 28,000 tests so far in the country, said Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.

Koca said that Turkey would soon begin mass production of ventilators to treat patients with severe breathing problems, and employ 32,000 more medical staff in hospitals across the country.

About increasing the number of tests, Koca said that the first batch of rapid test kits has arrived and would be used immediately.

The minister also said that Turkey has imported medicines that proved promising in treating the coronavirus, and the drugs have been distributed to hospitals for patients in intensive care units.

The minister confirmed that there were healthcare personnel who were infected with COVID-19, but did not provide further details.

A doctor from Ankara-based Hacettepe Medical University told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that necessary precautions have been taken in the university’s hospital, which was transformed into a COVID-19 hospital.

“Other than cancer patients receiving chemotherapy and intensive care unit patients who were already treated, no one will be admitted now,” he said, pointing out that “every single bed here will accommodate the infected patients.”

“For the moment, we are prepared. There is no lack of protective gear, but we are bracing for the worst case scenario,” the doctor stressed, adding that the protection of doctors and nurses is highly important as they are at the forefront of the battle against the virus.

The Turkish government has recently ordered all hospitals with specialists in infection, pulmonary, internal and clinical microbiology to be transformed into pandemic hospitals in order to tackle the crisis.

“We have a good health infrastructure and enough doctors. Our ICUs are prepared in cities across the country,” Ahmet Demircan, member of Turkey’s Coronavirus Science Council, told TGRT broadcaster.

“If things go the way as planned, we may navigate this stormy weather in less time and damage than expected,” he pointed out.

However, if confinement orders are not obeyed, it could result in unprecedented consequences, Demircan added.

Meanwhile, Turkish government is considering freeing thousands of detainees as the outbreak could spread to prisons.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said no cases have been recorded among prisoners so far but rights organizations said that inmates have complained of not being provided with disinfectants or masks.