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Turkey has not imposed a full lockdown over the new coronavirus pandemic because of its possible cost to the country’s economy, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said.
“A decision of a long-term quarantine would have a much heavier cost to the economy. The cost to social life and human psychology would be very, very different,” he told NTV last night (April 16).
While opposition parties and professional medical organizations have been advocating a full lockdown, the government has gone for limited restrictions so far.
Currently, people older than 65 and younger than 20 and are not employed are banned from going out. Entrance and exits to and from 31 larger cities are restricted and a curfew was declared in those cities for the last weekend and this weekend. Also, 227 residential areas, which are mostly neighborhoods and villages, are in quarantine.
However, in İstanbul, the largest and the most affected city from the epidemic, there is still significant mobility as Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said about a million people used public transport on Monday (April 13), a day after the weekend curfew.
“Like everyone, our priority is the prevention of the outbreak, minimizing losses of lives. In a period when these are the first items in our agenda, talking about the economy may seem irrelevant or inhuman to some. But the fact is that life must go on somehow,” Kalın remarked.
The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) sent a letter to the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services yesterday, saying that all production and work, apart from food, health, transportation and energy, should be halted to curb the spread of the disease.
Also, mayors of 11 larger cities requested a curfew in a joint statement.
Turkey has been one of the countries with the sharpest increase in coronavirus cases in the past week, having found more than 4,300 cases in a day on average. The country has a total of 74,193 cases and the death toll stands at 1,643, according to yesterday’s update.
The global economic cost of the pandemic
Kalın also said in the program that the global system’s fragilities have become much more visible with the pandemic.
“Many economists estimate that Covid-19 will cost the world 3-4 trillion dollars. So 2020 will be a year of complete contraction. We have to take this into consideration, but risking human lives due to this in any way is out of the question.
“There are lessons to be learned. Problems of capitalism and profit- and consumption-oriented systems have shown themselves through this crisis. Chaos and uncertainty are looming, and this should give us the opportunity to think about what really matters in our lives and what our basic needs are.”
The legitimacy of international organizations
He further said that the legitimacy of international organizations such as the World Health Organization, UN, G20, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and European Union will be questioned.
“If these organizations fail to create solutions for a crisis such as this, of course, there will be a question of political legitimacy.”
Turkey sees protecting its citizens as of vital importance, and that is why President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to provide everyone with masks for free, he said, adding the country has enough supplies and infrastructure to continue doing this. (EKN/VK)