After a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care since the reopening of cafés, restaurants, and recreation areas as well as lifting intercity travel restrictions in early June, Turkey’s Health Ministry stopped announcing figures of intensive care and intubated patients as of July 29. Instead, the number of seriously ill patients and the proportion of patients with pneumonia have been disclosed. Although Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca made some statements on the change on Twitter, he did not mention the absence of intensive care and intubation figures. Public health specialist and soL columnist İlker Belek evaluated the situation for soL News.
Pointing out that the number of intensive care and intubated patients is the substantial data revealing the severity of the pandemic, Belek said that the change on Turkey’s Daily Coronavirus Table is an attempt to hide the increase after the reopening and clear the unsuccessful past of Turkey’s ruling AKP’s fight against the pandemic.
THE NUMBER OF PATIENTS WITH PNEUMONIA DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING
According to Belek, although PCR testing has 70% diagnostic success at best, the Ministry recognizes only patients with PCR-positive as COVID-19 patients contrary to the advice of many experts and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Even though patients with PCR-negative have COVID-19 pneumonia and receive COVID-19 treatment, they are not recognized as COVID-19 patients and not included in contact-tracing studies, which is to say that the Ministry has not announced the exact number of the patients with pneumonia among those with COVID-19. Therefore, daily tracing the proportion of patients with pneumonia is of no use for reviewing the course of the disease,” Belek said.
WHAT IS “SERIOUSLY ILL PATIENT”?
Saying that the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies COVID-19 patients as mild, moderate, severe, and critical, Belek states that there is not a class of “seriously ill patient” in WHO’s definition. “WHO defines severe and critical patients based on clinical findings and symptoms, stating that all critical patients should be intubated, and some of the severe patients may need intubation in time. But, who are these patients? The Ministry does not announce the figures as expected. Therefore, daily tracing the number of seriously ill patients is of no use for reviewing the course of the disease, as well,” he said.