More than 500 quarantined in Turkey’s Mardin province – doctor

(Removed reference to state hospital in fifth paragraph.)

More than 500 people are being kept at home under quarantine in Mardin, a southwest Turkish province on key transport routes which has seen few precautions taken against the coronavirus pandemic, a local Chamber of Doctors official told Turkish news site Gazete Duvar.

The heavy traffic in goods lorries and other vehicles passing through Mardin from Russia, Iran and Turkic republics in Central Asia has placed the province at high risk from the virus, said Osman Sağlam, co-chair of Mardin’s Chamber of Doctors.

Most of the 500 people under quarantine work as drivers for logistics companies, the doctor said, stressing that the high number of Mardin residents engaged in international trade was placing the province at severe risk from COVID-19.

“Yet none of the World Health Organisation’s recommended measures are being taken on these people when they cross the border,” Sağlam said. “They’re trying to diagnose whether people have caught COVID-19 at the most basic clinics just by taking their temperature.”

While the Health Ministry raised the number of tests administered on Wednesday, testing more than 5,000 people – the highest daily count to date – and identifying 561 new cases of the virus, Sağlam said that many doctors at hospitals in Mardin were under pressure not to diagnose suspected cases of COVID-19.

"There are many patients whom the doctors are afraid to diagnose. In fact, the private hospitals and other hospitals are putting pressure on doctors not to diagnose people with the coronavirus," he said.

He added that factories in the province had remained open despite the high risk posed by having hundreds of people working together throughout the day in an enclosed space.