Turkish Health Ministry is hiding COVID-19 data, senior medical official says

Turkey’s Health Ministry is hiding data related to the country’s epidemic and the public struggling against the novel coronavirus their own, Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chairman Sinan Adıyaman said.

The Health Ministry has placed quotas on testing, said Adıyaman in comments carried by T24 on Saturday.

“The patient comes in, the people who have been in contact with said patient are known, but they are not being tested,” he said. “As the number of tests go down, so do the number of new patients.”

T24 cited reports that said Turkish hospitals were instructed by the Health Ministry to send patients with mild symptoms who younger than 50 years old back home to recover in self-isolation, where their cases would be followed up daily by tracking teams and family physicians. Post-treatment tests were also asked to be carried out at home.

Adıyaman stated the TTB received similar information.

“Patients are being sent home because there is no room (at hospitals) in some cities. Now you send them home but you don't know if they coming back out of them,” he said.

The latest Health Ministry data on Sunday show 987 new cases out of 40,247 administered tests since Saturday evening.

Turkey has been hit hard by the pandemic, and infections and deaths rising slightly since restrictions were eased, beginning in early June. Health experts have warned that the spread of COVID-19 could spike with relaxed anti-virus measures.

A member of the Health Ministry's Coronavirus Science Board warned that a second wave of cases in the fall season was likely because the public was beginning to act like before Turkey’s epidemic, according to Diken on Sunday.

Violations in social distancing, the improper use of masks, if even used at all are all indicators that case numbers will increase, said Yeşim Taşova, head of the Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology Department at Çukurova University's Balcalı hospital.