Wed, 23 Sep 2020

A mother helps her daughter put on a face mask in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya)

"This disease is something very different as it attacks the lungs very aggressively and may cause severe pneumonia," a Turkish doctor warns about #COVID19 after his own experience of contracting the deadly virus and recovering through treatment in hospital.

ANKARA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Hamit Ekinci, a 32-year-old Turkish emergency doctor, warns the public not to underestimate the COVID-19 after his own experience of contracting the deadly virus at work and recovering through treatment in hospital.

In Diyarbakir, the biggest province of Turkey's southeast where Ekinci works in a private hospital, daily reported coronavirus cases have been increasing for two weeks.

According to Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Diyarbakir was among five provinces where new cases were recorded on the rise, as daily cases in Turkey dropped 10 days ago to 900 before going upward again to nearly 1,000.

Ekinci began developing some classic symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic in early April when the outbreak in Turkey hit its height.

Hairdressers wearing face masks serve customers at a beauty salon in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya)

"I had strong pain in my bones and I started to run a fever which got higher. I immediately understood I contracted the virus from a patient with whom I had a brief close contact at the clinic," he told Xinhua in an interview at the end of a 24-hour shift.

"I am a relatively young person with no chronic illnesses and I don't smoke, but despite that, it was very difficult to shake off the coronavirus. This is really a serious disease," Ekinci said, urging the public to strictly abide by the health and safety measures.

Customers wearing face masks shop at a supermarket in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya)

After a couple of days of self-isolation at home, Ekinci's symptoms started to worsen and he was sent to the intensive care unit (ICU) of his own hospital where the Turkish doctor tested positive for COVID-19.

"My condition could be described as mild as I spent only over a week in hospital before a two-week quarantine at home. Nevertheless, this disease is something very different, as it attacks the lungs very aggressively and may cause severe pneumonia," Ekinci explained.

He told Xinhua that many of the elderly people with chronic diseases did not make it after their treatment in the ICU of his hospital.

"For senior citizens, the effects of the virus are devastating and on top of it, if they have another illness, like diabetes or a heart condition, the mortality rate gets immediately higher," he noted.

In his modest clinic, the Turkish doctor said, around 20 COVID-19 patients have been recorded each day since mid-July.

Police officers examine the COVID-19 hygiene precautions of a restaurant in Ankara, Turkey, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya)

"This pandemic is far from being over. Until an effective vaccine is found, which is currently not the case, we must obey the safety measures," Ekinci warned.

The doctor also called on the population to avoid gatherings such as weddings or funerals as many new cases related to such occasions have been reported in recent weeks.

Sending "a special message" to the young people, Ekinci warned that "they can get infected too and they can die."

"What we all have to understand is this virus is still very dangerous. We don't have the luxury to underestimate it," he concluded. ■

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