(Reuters) – Turkey’s daily COVID-19 death toll hit a record high for a fifth consecutive day at 177, data from the Health Ministry showed on Friday.
Turkey also recorded a new high of 29,845 coronavirus infections in the space of 24 hours, including asymptomatic ones, on Friday. However, from July until Wednesday, Ankara had only reported symptomatic cases, of which there were 6,592 on Friday. The total number of deaths stood at 13,191.
Turkey became the country with the third highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases globally on Nov. 25 — behind the US and India — after changing the way it reports figures.
Turkish Health Ministry has begun publishing all positive cases, including asymptomatic ones, in its daily count following months-long harsh criticisms from the scientific world, including the World Health Organization, and opposition figures claiming that the measuring method used was hiding the true scale of the outbreak.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has warned that the country may need to take “radical measures” as the number of daily COVID-19 deaths has climbed to record levels.
However, Caghan Kizil, a specialist in neuroscience and genetics at Dresden University’s Faculty of Medicine, tweeted: “We have reminded you of your responsibility for months. You did not take it into account. You created this situation by yourself. Being together would be by listening to scientists. Building trust was most important. You failed it, Mr. Koca.”
The government only introduced partial curfews for weekends, and limitations on restaurants and cafes.
However, these measures remain disputed by medical groups and local governors.
Istanbul metropolitan mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, has criticized government efforts that did not curb the pandemic. On the discrepancy in the Ministry of Health’s daily COVID-19 data, he recently announced that “even only in Istanbul the daily death toll is 50-60 higher than the announced national number.”
The officially announced death rates are also controversial, as the ministry announced 168 COVID-linked deaths on Wednesday, while the Istanbul municipality’s cemeteries department recorded 203 deaths alone on the same day due to “infectious diseases.”
The occupancy rates in the intensive care units of hospitals in the three biggest cities of Turkey exceed 70 percent. The number was by far the highest reported by the Turkish government since the beginning of the outbreak.
The Turkish Health Minister announced that about 80 percent of people who tested positive were either asymptomatic or showed slight symptoms — highlighting the importance of including asymptomatic cases in the total tally.
The Turkish Medical Association, the largest doctors’ group in the country, estimated that the average daily number of non-hospitalized cases was above 47,000. Many provinces in the country are also facing a third peak.
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