Turkey’s top medical association urges lockdown as gov’t fails to report real number of COVID-19 cases

As the Health Minister of Turkey, Fahrettin Koca, announced the number of COVID-19 cases in the country exceeded 3,000 on November 13, Vedat Bulut, the General Secretary of Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Turkey’s top medical association, told soL news that Turkey needs a full and strict lockdown while the number of coronavirus cases is actually much higher than the reported official figures.
Monday, 16 November 2020 14:53

Turkey has set a single-day record of COVID-19 cases as 3,223 new infections were confirmed by the Turkish authorities on Nov. 15 since the day that the Ministry of Health stopped announcing the total number of cases by excluding the ‘‘asymptomatic’’ positive cases from the official data.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Health had taken a decision that people with close contact with a patient with confirmed or probable COVID-19 disease will no longer be tested if they do not show symptoms. 


Criticizing the Turkish government’s attempt to ‘‘reduce’’ the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the country through such controversial policies, Vedat Bulut, the General Secretary of Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Turkey’s top medical association, evaluated the latest situation for soL news.

Slamming the Turkish Health Ministry’s attempts to separate the number of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases to decrease the actual COVID-19 cases by associating it to the implication of so-called ‘‘national security’’, Bulut said, “Normally, all cases, regardless of symptomatic or asymptomatic, must be mandatorily reported during such pandemics. There is no distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. They both are virus carriers, more or less. Therefore, it is clear that the latest figure announced by the Turkish government is not the real number of COVID-19 cases. The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is actually much higher than the reported official figures.’’


Stating that the government should urgently implement strict preventive measures under the current pandemic conditions in Turkey, Bulut noted, ‘‘There is a need for a full lockdown of at least 14 days. Production in non-vital sectors should also be stopped.’’

‘‘This is called a national contingency plan. In this plan, the government should economically support citizens who cannot work under the pandemic conditions,’’ he added.

Underlining that if you, as the government, force people to work at crowded workplaces and cannot prepare the necessary circumstances that protect them from the spread of the virus, of course, they will continue going to work to earn their bread, Bulut pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the poor most, and demanded that necessary preventive measures along with financial support be implemented immediately.


‘‘It is not possible to stop the spread of the disease without a governmental decision to full and strict lockdown,’’ Vedat Bulut said, and warned, ‘‘The capacity of our health system infrastructure is on the point of exhausting in most cities, and the capacity of the healthcare system has been exceeded.’’

‘‘The Turkish government and health authorities should take urgent measures to reduce this capacity and lower the COVID-19 cases. We need strict measures to slow down the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, at least to daily positive cases of 300-500,’’ Bulut concluded. 

On Nov. 15, Turkey has set a new record of daily COVID-19 cases with 3,223 new positive cases, according to the data released by the Ministry of Health.

As further 89 people died of coronavirus disease in the country on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 11,507, the Ministry announced that 3,439 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units.

In September, the TTB had called on Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca to resign after he admitted in a press conference held on Sep. 30 that state records do not reflect the full number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Koca had admitted that the daily data published by the government is only a partial record of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, saying that reported cases are limited to patients with symptoms being cared for in hospitals, and excluded asymptomatic cases tested positive for the coronavirus.

In late July, the Ministry of Health changed the language used for reporting daily COVID-19 cases on its website, starting to use the term ‘‘number of patients’’ instead of ‘‘number of cases’’, which sparked debates among medical professionals, arguing that it was a part of the reason behind the Turkish government’s suspected underreporting of coronavirus cases, being inconsistent with the figures announced by doctors in the country’s major provinces.