President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail appears to have taken a novel approach to protecting the Turkish leader, following him around with thermal cameras to prevent him from coming into contact with anyone with a higher than normal temperature.
Media spotted a bodyguard armed with a thermal camera at the entrance to the Turkish Grand National Assembly building in Ankara, where Erdogan met with lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party on Wednesday.
The security precaution is one of several provisions apparently taken by the Turkish president to avoid the virus. According to Hurriyet, Erdogan has also stopped hugging and shaking hands with people.
The latter seems to have been confirmed in footage of Erdogan’s recent public appearances. After meeting with NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, Erdogan avoided shaking hands with the secretary-general, instead raising his hand to his heart and saying “Corona!” He later did the same thing when speaking with European Council President Charles Michel.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan avoids shaking hands with EU and NATO officials during a one day trip to Brussels and instead puts his hand on his heart as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak #AFP pic.twitter.com/o1OLtinMmS— Kadir Demir (@dirkaDemir) March 11, 2020
Earlier this week, speaking with supporters, Erdogan said that the hundreds of people were dying from coronavirus in Western countries “because they are not careful enough, but we will be!”
Commenting on the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Turkey on Wednesday, Erdogan vowed that “the measures that we will take will be the most effective method of protection,” adding that “no virus is stronger than our measures.”
“God willing, we will get over it too. May God help us and be on our side,” he said.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has urged Turkish citizens to avoid traveling abroad, and to put themselves under voluntary self-quarantine for two weeks after getting back from trips. Turkey’s western neighbours, Greece and Bulgaria, have 90 and 6 cases of COVID-19, respectively. To the northeast, Georgia has 23 cases, while Armenia has one. Iraq has 71 cases, while Iran’s infection rate is up to 9,000, with the virus already claiming the lives of several officials, including the country’s former deputy health minister.