Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca admitted at his daily press conference on September 30 that the government has not published the full number of COVID-19 cases. Official numbers have included only symptomatic cases.
“Not all cases are patients because there are those who show no symptoms at all, even though their tests come back positive,” Koca said.
Koca insisted that the number of daily COVID-19 “patients,” which he defined as those showing symptoms, was more important than the number of new “cases,” which include those who show no symptoms.
Medical NGOs and the opposition have accused the government of manipulating the data for political purposes, to speed up revitalisation of the economy and tourism.
Several European countries including Germany and the UK allowed citizens to holiday in Turkey without going into quarantine on their return following a reported fall in the number of registered COVID-19 cases in the country.
A document shared by the main opposition Republican People’s Party, CHP, on September 29 showed that the total number of cases was 20 times higher than the official numbers.
CHP lawmaker Murat Emir said the documents present screenshots of official laboratories’ test results which are not open to public.
Koca rejected those claims. “I want to say that all the information on the table we give is correct,” the minister said.
The Turkish Medical Association, TTB, reacted to the latest admission by criticizing the methodology of the ministry and accusing Koca of still hiding the real number of cases.
“Health Minister Koca said that unsymptomatic patients who have positive test results are not counted in official numbers. We have been saying this for six month. You did not manage the process transparently. You hid the facts. You did not stop the spread of the pandemic,” TTB wrote on Twitter, addressing the minister.
According to the latest data of the Health Ministry, Turkey conducted more than 112,000 tests and registered 1,391 “patients” in the last 24 hours.