Dental clinic and mall restrictions likely as Turkey battles COVID-19 - columnist

Turkey is sure to take new measures against the growing number of COVID-19 cases this week, and these could include restrictions on dentists’ surgeries and shopping malls, HaberTürk columnist Muharrem Sarıkaya reported, citing a government committee meeting on the coronavirus.

The meeting brought together groups of experts in a range of fields and touched on a broad range of fields that may be heavily impacted as the number of cases diagnosed in Turkey could rise from the 97 currently on record to more than 1,000 in a week, according to the columnist.

A large-scale curfew as seen in Italy is not currently on the cards in Turkey, but the government is preparing to ramp up testing for the virus, with 16 centres set up initially, but more to be established in large cities around the country, he said.

The longest part of the meeting was devoted to dental and oral health clinics, Sarıkaya said.

Since the clinics pose a high risk of contamination because of the nature of the treatment offered, and because many of them are located in areas of heavy traffic in cities, the government is considering which of the clinics to leave open, the columnist said.

The decision about dental clinics and about similar cases like shopping malls will be taken after further consultations with business groups, he said.

Officials at the meeting also discussed the phone line number 184 that has been created to deal exclusively with information on the virus. Doctors will be assigned to each call centre, and callers will be transferred to health professionals who will direct them to the information they need, said Sarıkaya.