One of the biggest problems experienced in Turkey since the first Covid-19 case was announced on March 11 has been distribution of masks. The country announced adequate number of masks, however these masks have never been effectively distributed across the country and 9 different directives were announced in 8 weeks regarding mask management.
Since the day Covid-19 has been confirmed by the Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca in Turkey, access to masks has been seen as a significant problem in Turkey. While authorities announced that there are adequate number of masks for the whole nation, a big group of people have never received their free masks that were to be distributed by the state.
UNABLE TO ACCESS MASKS
Turkey has been sending medical supplies and face masks globally in recent days. Turkish planes have gone overseas to bring Turkish supplies to all around the world, however a big majority of the local citizens are unable to access masks.
According to a poll conducted by Metropoll Research, 55% of the electorate announced that they have experienced troubles accessing masks.
41% of AKP voters, 53.7% of government ally MHP voters, 69.6% of main opposition CHP voters, 63.6% of IYI Party voters and 76.7% of HDP voters stated that they have experienced problems obtaining a mask.
FAILURE IN MASK DISTRIBUTION
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Turkey has issued 9 different directives regarding mask distribution. However, none of these directives have been successfully implemented, and eventually the situation was reverted back to where it started.
Turkey’s progress in mask distribution:
April 3, wearing masks was made compulsory on buses, in markets and crowded places
April 4, Minister of Trade Pekcan announced that the state would sell masks to the people to make it accessible in crowded places; on the same day CHP Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality announced free distribution of masks in Istanbul.
April 6, upon reactions against the government following Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s free distribution of masks, sale of masks was forbidden. Government announced free distribution of masks through Postal Service.
April 7, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality started free mask distribution on public transport and private vehicles.
April 9, Postal Service PTT’s website crashed. Applications were announced to be made on e-state portal and delivery was announced through Postal Service to home addresses.
April 10, Postal Service would be unable to distribute the masks; pharmacies authorized to distribute free masks with SMS codes sent to citizens’ phone numbers.
April 28, Turkish Pharmacists Association announced that due to intensity, not everyone would be able to get a mask from pharmacies. Employees of public offices and private businesses would receive their masks in work places. Citizens under curfew [below the age of 20 and over the age of 65] would receive masks at home through mail.
May 3, Ministry of Health announced that the mobile application that tracks citizens’ movements and compliance with Covid-19 measures, would allow applications for free masks.
May 4, mask sales are permitted again by AKP chair & President Erdoğan.
May 6, top price for masks is announced as ₺1 to prevent profiteering through public health.