Turkey is committed to strengthening international cooperation in combating this global threat. We closely follow and support the plans announced by the international organizations, including the UN Global Humanitarian Response Plan. We promote and actively undertake mutual assistance between countries.
Like all the other countries, Turkey gives priority to the medical needs of our citizens since we are facing growing numbers of coronavirus cases. On the other hand, we make the best effort to also meet the requests for assistance in medical equipment that are coming from other countries. So far, we have met the requests of 44 out of 116 countries. We are currently globally ranked as the third country, right after China and the U.S. in this regard. In line with our humanitarian diplomacy initiative, priority is given to the less developed countries (LCDs).
Turkey has provided assistance to all Western Balkan countries, including Serbia. We see this as a regional responsibility and solidarity. Turkey was among the first countries that delivered medical equipment to Serbia. This included 2000 COVID-19 test kits, 100,000 protective masks, 2000 protective gowns for health personnel. Additionally, Turkish investor in Serbia Taşyapı has donated 25 intensive care beds, 5 respirators and various protection materials to “Dragiša Mišović” hospital. Besides, Turkey-based NGO “Friends of Sandzak”, in cooperation with “Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK)” and “Turkey-Serbia Business Council”, sent an aid truck to Novi Pazar that carried 1 mobile x-ray device, 20.000 protective masks, 1000 protective gowns, washing machines along with the disinfection and medical materials.
Turkey met the requests for assistance in medical equipment of 44 out of 116 countries
At the national level, Turkey has taken all the necessary measures in keeping with the scientific data and upon recommendations of the Turkish Board of Science. We have introduced various social and physical isolation measures for different age groups. All citizens, including the ones without health insurance, have free access to the COVID-19 treatment in public hospitals. Protective masks are free of charge for all citizens.
Our measures include travel restrictions at the national and international level, the establishment of COVID-19 special units in all health institutions both private and public, construction of temporary hospitals for COVID-19 cases and new mega hospitals. Our experts employ a state of the art method of epidemiological investigation of filiation to locate the sources of contact. Thanks to all these measures, we were able to reduce the growth rate of the cases. The coronavirus mortality rate is relatively low in Turkey. We are seeing the positive effects of medication therapy. National scientific bodies and universities conduct vaccine research under the auspices of the Ministry of Health.
Turkish parliament passed a law on the package of economic measures to minimize the economic and social impacts of the pandemic. The priority is to prevent suspensions from work and sustain national production. Those measures include tax reduction for various sectors, special measures for tourism, postponement of public receivables (state-owned property rents, water bills, agricultural loans, student loans) subsidy for exporters and over 300 million dollars of financial assistance to households. Financial support to the workers who are on unpaid leave, a ban on termination of labour contracts for the three-month period is also envisaged.
In terms of repatriation of Turkish citizens abroad, 25 thousand citizens from 74 countries have returned home. We are currently also bringing 25 thousand more citizens from 70 countries. A total of 350 Turkish citizens have returned from Serbia to Turkey and, out of the number, 256 were transported with the generous help of Air Serbia.
The coronavirus pandemic does not only represent a global health crisis but it also provokes an economic and social crisis. It is one of the greatest challenges the humanity has ever faced. Because of this, we need a global response and full solidarity. The necessary measures on social mobility bring about social and economic ramifications. The world economy, all our economies will experience a drop this year. Nevertheless, we must ensure that international supply chains are maintained, as well as international trade and cargo transport. This is also vital for the provision of the health and medical equipment, as well as a staple food.