Casey: I hate this bug.
Sam: Oh, come on, Casey. You have to admire its simplicity. It’s one billionth our size and it’s beating us.
Casey: So, what do you want to do, take it to dinner?
Sam: No.
Casey: What, then?
Sam: Kill it.

The movie Outbreak, starring Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr, is an American medical disaster film directed by Wolfgang Petersen in 1995 and based on a nonfiction book by Richard Preston. The film focuses on an outbreak of a fictional Ebola-like virus in Zaire and then in a small US town. Just like in the above-mentioned quote, we – the entire world – would like to “kill it”, the COVID19. The virus we are dealing with is not targeting a particular race, age, religion, party or geography; we want to beat it and our only weapon is “science.”

We’re missing friends, family, lovers, joy etc.; in short, our lives. We are certainly trying to sort things out under swaying emotions of isolation. Under these circumstances; the best way, the ideal shelter is the universe of science and numbers that is calm, steady, rule-bound and reliable. There is no need for us, the ordinary citizens, to draw up conclusions; numbers will do it for us. Therefore, let us go through the diary of Coronavirus; particularly, in Turkey.

Date Incident
December 2019 Anew viral outbreak was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China
January 2, 2020 41 admitted hospital patients in Wuhan, China
January 5, 2020 Number of suspected cases reached 59 with seven in a critical condition.
January 8, 2020 Scientists in China announced the discovery of a new coronavirus.
January 9, 2020 First death from virus in China
January 13, 2020 Virus seen in Thailand
January 20, 2020 First confirmed case reported in South Korea
January 21, 2020 US and Taiwan reported their first cases
January 22, 2020 Hong Kong reported their first laboratory-confirmed cases
Officials announce a quarantine of the greater Wuhan, China area to commence 23 January 2020
January 23, 2020 Vietnam confirmed its first two laboratory-confirmed cases
January 27, 2020 Germany reported its first case
January 30, 2020 Italy confirms two cases The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by WHO (World Health Organization).

While deaths grew rapidly in China in early February, new case reports came from countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, and Singapore. Quarantine systems have started to be widespread in all vehicles from cruise ships to border gates, from aircraft to trains. The number of people diagnosed withKovid-19 reached 40 thousand by mid-February 10, while the number of those who died was close to 1000. It was reported that, in the third week of February, the virus outbreak spread quickly in Iran and Italy immediately afterwards. The virus had infected a large region from South Asia to Northern Europe during the last week of February. As of 27 February Saudi Arabia announced that it had suspended visits to Umrah.

On March 11, 2020 Director General of WHO announced in a media briefing Coronavirus as pandemic and said “WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction. We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.”

In Turkey, the process had begun on January 6, 2020, when an operational center was established under the Ministry of Health, and on January 10 a Science Board was formed to evaluate the developments in Coronavirus. By 20 January, 2020, Turkey began scanning coronavirus for all international passengers from Wuhan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, USA and Russia.  Turkey suspended all flights from China as part of coronavirus measures on February 3. Many other countries were added to the same steps within February, and the borders with Iran, Iraq and Georgia were closed. On 10 March 2020, the Health Minister declared the first case of Coronavirus. Following the first recorded case; beginning from March 16, schools were closed for 2 weeks and universities for 3 weeks, and sporting activities will be held without spectators until the end of April, following a presidential meeting on March 12, 2020. And, total number of cases and deaths officially reported in Turkey is;

Date # Of Cases
March 11, 2020 First case reported
March 13, 2020 5 cases
March 14, 2020 6 cases
March 15, 2020 18 cases
March 16, 2020 47 cases
March 17, 2020 98 cases, 1 death
March 18, 2020 191 cases, 2 death
March 19, 2020 359 cases, 4 death

There are hard debates in Turkish public regarding test numbers, availability of test kits, and accountability about number of cases. But on Monday, the Turkish Medical Association warned that the number of Turkish coronavirus patients could be “much higher” than the official count was receiving data. Prof. Dr. Sinan Adiyaman, head of the Turkish Medical Association, said at this point that the 7,000 tests that Turkey has performed so far are far too low, and the government needs to decentralize testing to catch more cases. “If we look at the contagion risk, it’s clear that the next two weeks are very important. Through foreseeing that the number of cases will grow rapidly, it is now imperative to take the necessary precautions, “Adiyaman told in a live streamed news conference.

Yet, one of the most important points of discussion is that more than 20,000 visitors to Umrah return to Turkey. Many of the experts, scientists and doctors point out that the pilgrim’s return was the turning point in the battle against the virus. It is argued that the return process had started by March 5, 2020; but, as of March 15, 2020, only 10,000 of them were put in dormitories for quarantine procedures, the remaining ones were sent to their homes with 14 days of self-quarantine advice.

Bars, pubs, cafes, museums, libraries were closed according to steps taken. Mass prayers in mosques, however, were suspended until the threat of coronavirus outbreak passes, said Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Religious Directorate, on March 16. Erbas told reporters that the mosques would be kept open to individual prayers. Following strong public opposition, the Religious Directorate declared on March 19 that the mosques would be closed this Friday for prayers and coming Saturday for a gathering of mawlid al-nabi (the birthday of the prophet) due to precautions for the Corona virus.

There’s a calming dimension in positive sciences and numbers. You can’t bend the results and alter according to your will if you’ve attained a fact. In this unpredictable environment created by the virus it is wise to take shelter behind numbers and science. Once this is over, we’re back to our emotional worlds. But for now, as WHO and various Turkish authorities repeatedly states, social distancing and hygiene are the key tools for ordinary citizens.

So, we’re in this together #washyourhands, #stayhome and #staysafe

Click here for updated Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak