The US ambassador in Ankara on Thursday praised Turkey’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the guidelines are “sensible” and “working.”

“We have high regard for the care and attention that Turkish officials have given to protecting all those who live in Turkey from this disease,” David Satterfield told Anadolu Agency.

Saying that the US Embassy and Consulate communities are following Turkish Government guidelines, Satterfield added: “They’re sensible and appear to us to be working.”

“We all hope for a period when COVID-19 is something in the past, as opposed to dominating everything about the present,” he added.

Satterfield said so far over 400 US citizens and legal permanent residents have departed Turkey, adding that most of them left on one of the special Turkish Airlines-organized flights to the US and Canada.

“None of this could have happened without the active engagement, help and support of the Turkish Government and in particular, Turkish Airlines. We’re very grateful for that,” he said.

Asked whether the cooperation displayed by Turkey and the US during the pandemic could be an opportunity to advance bilateral relations between the two countries, Satterfield said the US expressed its appreciation for Turkey’s help at the highest levels.

“As I said in late April after Turkey sent two planes with medical supplies to the U.S., ‘close coordination among like-minded allies and partners is key to developing a swift and effective response.’ That applies more broadly to bilateral relations too,” he said.

Calling the relationship between the US and Turkey “strong,” the ambassador stressed that Turkey is one of the US’ most important allies.

The US hopes “that the ties between us will continue to expand, grow, and find a path forward on overcoming existing issues as rapidly as possible,” he concluded.

As the Turkish public largely followed measures to stem the pandemic, daily cases in Turkey fell under 1,000 on Wednesday for the first time since March 25.

The Health Ministry announced a total of 113,987 people have recovered from the disease so far, while the death toll reached 4,222 with 23 more fatalities, and the tally of cases climbed to 152,587.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to at least 188 countries and regions, with Europe and the US currently the worst hit.

US, with over 1,550,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 93,500 deaths, continues to be the epicenter of the disease.

The pandemic has killed nearly 329,000 people worldwide, with some 5 million confirmed cases and over 1.9 million recoveries, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

*Writing by Beyza Binnur Donmez from Ankara

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