Erdoğan warned of global outbreak a year before coronavirus pandemic – columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned against a pending global epidemic almost a year ahead of the deadly coronavirus outbreak that has brought the world to a standstill, Turkish columnist Ahmet Tan wrote on Sunday.

None of the world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had uttered a single word regarding any kind of viral outbreak, when the Turkish president went on record with a memorandum 11.5 months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tan wrote in Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

Erdoğan’s presidential memorandum 2019/5, which was published on April 12, 2019, pointed to the emergence of an easily transmittable “new type of influenza”, Tan wrote.

“All precautions will be taken to ensure that there are no hindrances during this pandemic period,” the memorandum said, adding that a plan, called the “National Preparation Plan for Pandemic Influenza”, would be coordinated with the Health Ministry to provide efficient services to all public institutions.

The novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, broke out in Wuhan, China, in November 2019 and rapidly spread throughout the world in a matter of months.

On March 11, the World Health Organisation declared the global outbreak a pandemic, which has since claimed the lives of over 13,400 worldwide.

Turkey was the last major economy to report an outbreak, confirming its first COVID-19 patient on March 11. The number of cases has since catapulted to 947 and 21 people have died of the virus, according to statistics given by the Health Ministry.