Turkey ‘still whitewashing extent of country’s coronavirus outbreak’

By bne IntelIiNews December 16, 2020

Turkey’s Erdogan administration is still whitewashing the extent of the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak despite having released new data that more than tripled the official number of infections in the country, according to a family doctor and Turkish Medical Association (TTB) member quoted by DW on December 15.

While the Turkish health ministry claims Turkey’s infection rate is running at around 30,000 new cases per day, Emrah Kirimli said his estimate was that the rate was around 50,000 to 60,000 cases per day. He was cited as saying: "Even now, we have many more cases than the government declares. The hospitals and intensive care units here in Istanbul are full, there is no more room. Our doctors are at their absolute limit. We urgently need to take radical countermeasures now."

Until lately, Turkey was only reporting coronavirus cases in which the infected person showed symptoms, excluding asymptomatic cases even though an asymptomatic carrier of coronavirus can spread the illness. To some astonishment, the government revised the total number of infections recorded since the country’s coronavirus outbreak officially began in March to more than 1.8mn by mid-December from about 550,000 at the beginning of December. According to the adjusted data, Turkey, by its number of infections, has the sixth worst coronavirus crisis in the world and the worst in the Middle East, with Iran now the second worst-hit in the region.

Since the government revised its coronavirus data, many Istanbul residents have felt deceived, reported DW, quoting one city dweller as saying: "We are angry about how the government is managing this crisis, but we can't do anything about it anyway.” Another Istanbul resident was reported as saying: “The government is mainly concerned with its reputation, they want to look good and that's why they are so non-transparent."

Some critics argue the government has essentially lost control of the virus outbreak in the country. They also point out that the number of coronavirus deaths that have been officially declared is still suspiciously low when held up against the number of registered infections.

Opposition politicians, including Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, are urging more radical measures to address the crisis as soon as possible.

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