Health

Minister Pilli: Preparations made for possible Coronavirus outbreak

Minister of Health Ali Pilli announced the activities of the Ministry of Health in respect of the Coronavirus outbreak in an Assembly Meeting.

Stating that the new Coronavirus epidemic, which started in China in December 2019, and has spread to 88 countries, Minister Pilli emphasised that as soon as this was known the Ministry immediately started preparations for a possible epidemic, with the World Health Organisation’s announcement that there was a global epidemic risk.

Minister Pilli confirmed the work carried out within this scope.

1- On January 23, 2020, the Primary Health Care Department convened the Communicable Diseases Surveillance Committee to evaluate the outbreak risk and preparations.

In this meeting, it was decided that the risk of the epidemic coming to our country exists and that there are also measures to be taken in stakeholder institutions in addition to medical preparations.

2- A possible epidemic in our country was discussed in the meeting with the participation of the Undersecretary of the Ministry, the Ministry Primary Health Department and the Department of Inpatient Treatment Institutions, the Head of the Medical Association, Infectious Diseases Experts, the Chief of the Paediatric Clinic and the Director of the Civil Aviation Department. The measures to be taken to avoid the situation and what to do if a person with this virus arrives in the country were discussed and decisions made which were announced to the press.

3- The Infectious Diseases High Committee convened on 28 January 2020, under the leadership of the TSHD Directorate, with the participation of the Director of the Pharmacy Department of the Ministry of Health, the Director of the Department of Inpatient Treatment Institutions, the representative of the Medical Association, the representative of the Veterinary Department, the Director of the Civil Aviation Department, the Director of the Directorate of Ports, Civil Defence Manager, Infectious Diseases Physicians, Near East Hospital Infection Department representative, Representative of Union of Municipalities, and the Ministry of Education Representative, and all of the dimensions were discussed and reconsidered.

4- In addition, there was discussion with the Civil Aviation Department, Airport Police, and the Directorate of Customs Department at Ercan Airport on-site.  Within the scope of the decisions taken, the following was carried out.

  • A Thermal Camera was installed at Ercan Airport.
  • An Isolation Room was prepared at Ercan Airport.
  • A guide explaining how to identify and monitor possible cases for doctors was prepared and sent to doctors and the Medical Association. Transport by Ambulance, the procedure to be followed with the Airport Case Tracking Algorithm was prepared by our TSHD and Infectious Diseases experts and forwarded to the relevant departments of the Ministry and the Medical Association. 
  • It was decided to prepare a passenger information form for the identification of risky passengers in an aircraft. However, these forms were to be distributed in an airplane in Turkey but as at 4th February 2020 it was found that this had not been done. 

5- 2 GSM telephone lines were activated to report possible cases of Coronavirus. 0533 850 1188 and 0548 850 1188.

6-  A Quarantine Department, including an Intensive Care unit, was created at Burhan Nalbantoğlu State Hospital, Lefkosa.

7- Posters were prepared for the public, explaining what they can do about Coronavirus protection, and displayed in Ercan Airport, Border Gates, State Hospitals and Health Centres. 

8- In line with the updated information, the Case Management Guide was updated for all healthcare professionals.

9- At the bi-communal Health Technical Committee organised by the Presidency on 2-03-2020,the mutual measures taken by the two communities were shared with each other.

10- A thermal camera was installed at both Girne and Famagusta Ports. Isolation rooms were also created there.

11- Public awareness was raised and public awareness was increased. 

12- Necessary kit was taken to the genetic laboratory for Coronavirus analysis and studies were started.

13- A meeting was held with university representatives to evaluate the situation of foreign students. They were told about the suspicious case definition and what they should do when they encountered such a case. We said that we can ask for isolation regarding the students who come from risky areas and we want them to prepare for this. 

14- Every day our surveillance staff prepared a report on the current state of the epidemic in the world and we evaluated them. 

15- Turkey announced simultaneously with the decisions we have taken that persons from China, Iran, Iraq, South Korea and Italy would not be allowed into the country.  Turkish and Turkish Cypriot citizens returning from these countries would be required to be interviewed and pass the checks and quarantined if necessary.

16- 06 March 2020.  On Turkish Airlines and Pegasus planes, questionnaires are distributed to the passengers travelling to Ercan Airport, and the travel and contact information is obtained, and data for possible virus cases established.  In addition, these forms are filled in for passengers at sea ports. Announcements about Coronavirus are made by making announcements on airplanes, ships and at airports, and our Ministry of Health Coronavirus contact numbers are frequently reminded.

17- Brochures were distributed by the personnel of the Ministry of Health at all land gates. Our employees also ask questions and assist by filling out forms for foreigners from countries with Coronavirus.

18- In the press announcement made by our Ministry on March-06, 2020, we asked the people coming from the countries where there is an epidemic to reach us through the epidemic communication phone lines.

Our activities and meetings are continuing day by day and our action plans will continue increasingly against a possible epidemic.

Source: Ministry of Health