FAQs – COVID-19

The frequently asked questions on top of this page cover general answers and recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the national health authorities.

If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will also find information how the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation may impact UNHCR services for refugees and asylum-seekers.

General FAQs about coronavirus (COVID-19)

Is the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) very contagious/ is it easy to get the virus?

Coronavirus is harder to catch than you think. It takes close, direct contact with a sick person (or with objects and surfaces the person has used) to become infected with the virus. Many of the people who get the disease are caregivers and family members caring for a sick person without personal protective equipment.

My health insurance is cancelled, will it be reactivated due to COVID-19 outbreak?

While the health insurance will not be automatically reactivated due to the current situation, emergency health services related to COVID-19 are accessible for Turkish and foreign nationals regardless of the health insurance situation.

Can I get the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by talking to someone or sitting next to them?

You are very unlikely to catch the virus by talking to people, walking in the street or shopping in the market or another crowded space. Being nearby a person generally doesn’t spread the virus. There is no change you will get the virus if you have not travelled to the affected countries recently or have not been in contact with a person who is sick with coronavirus.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

The disease can be treated, and many people have already recovered from it. While there is no specific medicine recommended, those infected with the virus should receive care to relieve and treat symp-toms. Those with severe illness should get care in a hospital.

Is there a vaccine?

There is no vaccine yet because this is a new virus. It takes time to develop a new vaccine that is efficient and safe. Researchers are working on it.

Does having a COVID-19 patient in a hospital in my country put all people at risk?

Hospitals are prepared to care for patients with infectious diseases. Having a patient of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a hospital means they will receive the right treatment to help them get healthy and prevent the disease from spreading.

Should we avoid people coming from China?

We should use the same protective measures with any person (no matter the nationality, origin, etc) who may be sick and have symptoms similar to a cold (runny nose, fever, sore throat, cough and short-ness of breath). These include washing hands often with water and soap or alcohol-based hand gel to wash the germs off hands; keeping a distance from anyone who is coughing, sneezing, or sick (at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance and encouraging them to go to a nearby healthcare center.

Should we avoid Chinese food?

The new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is not spread by eating Chinese food. It is safe to eat any fully cooked food in a hygienic and clean environment.

How can I keep my child safe?

It is important to teach your children to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitiser. You should also teach them to cough/sneeze into their bent elbow or into a tissue and put the tissue directly into the garbage and wash their hands right after. Keep windows open at home and on public transport so the air circulates and carries germs away!

Do I need a mask to protect myself against COVID-19?

No, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is to simply wash your hands well and often.

  • If you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person that might have COVID-19.
  • If you are sneezing or coughing often, you should wear a mask so that you don’t spread the virus through coughing or sneezing around other people or onto surfaces.

Please note:

In line with the guidance provided by the Turkish government, wearing face masks will be mandatory at areas where people are collectively located, including supermarkets, marketplaces and workplaces.

UNHCR Turkey services in times of COVID-19:

I lost my job due to COVID-19 outbreak, does UNHCR provide financial assistance?

UNHCR is working in coordination with government and implementing partners in order to ensure that there won’t be disruptions in the essential services that we deliver, as well as to look into measures to support the community. Relevant information in this regard will be shared soon, please follow our digital platforms such as Help website and Facebook page.

As an asylum-seeker or refugee in Turkey, you may be eligible to receive social and financial assistance from different organizations and government bodies. This includes food and household goods assistance, and cash assistance.

For instance, ESSN (KIZILAYKART-SUY) provides unrestricted and unconditional multipurpose cash assistance programme that you may apply for. It is designed to help cover the basic needs of vulnerable individuals under temporary or international protection in Turkey, and living outside of temporary accommodation centers. The programme is implemented by the IFRC, Turkish Red Crescent (Turk Kizilay) and the Turkish Ministry of Family and Social Policies, and is financed by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).
For information, questions, feedback and comments, we encourage you to visit the KIZILAYKART-SUY website, the KIZILAYKART-SUY Facebook page, or call the Turk Kızılay Call Centre on 168.

Does the COVID-19 outbreak have any effect on my resettlement case and departure?

UNHCR resettlement interviews are postponed until 24 April 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. All other activities relating to resettlement will continue during this period.

In line with international travel restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, resettlement departures are temporary postponed. You will still depart from Turkey when the global situation regarding COVID-19 is contained. UNHCR or IOM will contact you when you are rebooked for travel.  If you have any questions regarding your RST interviews and departures, please call the counselling line on 444 48 68. Link

Does UNHCR provide assistance for COVID-19 test and treatment?

UNHCR does not provide assistance related to testing and / or treatment on the COVID-19. However, health services can be accessed as follows:

If you believe you have the symptoms, or in case you have questions about COVID-19, contact the Ministry of Health COVID-19 helpline at 184 for further information.

Patients are able to receive health care services in cases of infectious and epidemic diseases threatening public health.  If you think you have the symptoms of COVID-19, you can approach a health institution in your province with your mouth and nose covered for protection. If the doctors deem it necessary, COVID-19 testing will be done. It is free of charge.

UNHCR advices to get more information on the Turkish Ministry of Health dedicated webpage on COVID-19: https://covid19.saglik.gov.tr/

Is UNHCR open in times of COVID-19?

Yes, UNHCR will continue providing access to protection and assistance remotely for the time being, for this purpose:

-We have implemented remote protection services through UNHCR Counselling Line to continue to receive your questions, provide information and assistance where appropriate. In emergency situations, you can call the Counseling Line outside the working hours and during the weekend.

-Efforts are being deployed to ensure the continuity of financial/cash assistance.

-We have strengthened our digital communication in order to ensure access to all required information, we highly advice you to follow our platforms (FB, Help, Services advisor).

Does UNHCR assist for hygiene supplies and masks?

No, UNHCR is not providing masks or hygiene supplies. UNHCR is working in coordination with government and implementing partners in order to ensure that there won’t be disruptions in the essential services that we deliver, as well as to look into measures to support the community. Relevant information in this regard will be shared soon, please follow our digital platforms such as Help website and Facebook page.

The best way to avoid infection is to regularly wash hands with soap and water, not touch your face and practice social distancing. Stay at home as much as possible.

Regarding masks:

  • If you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person that might have COVID-19.
  • If you are sneezing or coughing often, you should wear a mask so that you don’t spread the virus around other people or onto surfaces.
  • In line with the guidance provided by the Turkish government, wearing face masks will be mandatory at areas where people are collectively located, including supermarkets, marketplaces and workplaces

For more information on when and how to use masks, you can visit WHO dedicated page: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks