Ankara: Corona has gone beyond being 'just a virus'

Even while the Coronavirus was spreading rapidly, those concerned for the health of world tourism were listing safe 'places' for those planning a vacation plan. Only six countries, including Turkey, were listed. Sinay Coskun, a student from Turkey's capital Ankara, shares how Turkey is currently dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.


For the time being, I prefer preterite expressions, assuming that it is not a matter of concern to plan a vacation and create a list for this purpose anymore. So, how do these 'safest countries' such as Turkey start contending with the virus? Do they really start at all?

In the case of Turkey, there are substantial number of scenarios that have already experienced by other countries. For us, it is time to take a leaf out of other countries’ books. We had to see how China reduced rises of thousands of cases to fewer than 200 in their cities, or to observe how other countries came up against a brick wall. So we did!


'For us, it is time to take a leaf out of other countries’ books'

We took similar measures against the Coronavirus; first, schools were closed and lectures were cancelled, as in every country adopting a wide range of measures meant to limit the spread of the Coronavirus. However, this social isolation process was perceived as holiday and places of entertainment were swarmed quickly and nonsensically.


Photo by Theodoris Katis, taken in Istanbul


Then, disinfection began wherever citizens were collectively involved in activities (at this stage, there was no incident yet reported in the country). While the situation was getting serious for some, the government continued to take serious measures in good time. It was not limited to disinfection: cafes, pubs, restaurants, wedding venues were closed.


Precisely at this stage, the young age group that I am in has understood the severity of the situation. But the level of seriousness that was gradually being appreciated was still not enough.


Unfortunately, there is a mass in the country that does not have access to social communication platforms and even mass media. Thus, they are unaware of what is going on around the globe - and I say nothing of those who only share false information.


Also, there is a mass that will not abstain from situating themselves in rammed places, with insistence and determination. To be clear, I am talking about performing prayer collectively - that is pouring into the mosques. This collective activity brings a considerable number of people together, for sure. In metropolitan areas and especially on Fridays, 5000 to 10,000 citizens can be worshipping all together in the mosques.


'‘’Friday prayers and all worship meetings are cancelled.’’ This voice, announced from the minarets, was actually the most important step towards creating an understanding of the severity of the situation in society'

After the first Coronavirus case was officially announced, a Friday passed, and thousands of citizens went to the mosques to perform prayer collectively. Even yesterday, the streets were not yet secluded. About a week after the first Coronavirus case was detected in the country, an announcement sounded from the minarets of the mosques instead of the sound of the call to prayer: ‘’Friday prayers and all worship meetings are cancelled.’’ This voice, announced from the minarets, was actually the most important step towards creating an understanding of the severity of the situation in society.


Now, I guess, Coronavirus has gone beyond being ‘’just a virus’’ for most us.


This story was shared by Sinay Coskun, a student of City and Regional Planning at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.

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