Turkey’s health scandal: WHO calls on Turkey to follow its COVID-19 reporting guides

Turkey reported 1,502 “active patients” and 59 deaths on Saturday night, after Health Minister Mr Fahrettin Koca made the scandalous admission that “not every case is a patient”. Two top medical authorities, one serving in Ankara city science advisory council, the other in the National Science Advisory Council, confessed that they didn’t know The Ministry failed to report asymptomatic cases.


Potentially, the number of asymptotic cases diagnosed each day could be huge. CHP MP Murat Emir claimed these amounted to 29,377 on September— markedly higher than the 1,512 patients announced by the health ministry that day.


Koca dismissed the claim claiming that the document shown by Emir to prove his case was “not dated”, refusing to address the critical question of veracity of Emir’s claim.


If Ankara is concealing the true number of daily cases to attract more tourists and stimulate outdoor shopping and social activity, it is failing. UK just added Turkey to its quarantine list, while EU extend its travel ban to Turkey. According to a recent Ipsos survey, 76% of respondents are very afraid to visit hairdressers, while those reporting carefree outdoors activity dropped from 92% in summer months, to 84% by end-September.


The World Health Organization’s office in Turkey has reiterated its call for reporting COVID-19 data in line with WHO guidances to “harmonize data collection and response measures.”


WHO’s statement comes days after Turkey’s health minister revealed that the daily COVID-19 figures published by the ministry since July 29 reflected only patients with symptoms, excluding asymptomatic positive cases.


Critics have questioned the veracity of the case and death toll numbers Turkey has reported during the pandemic.


The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) slammed the Health Ministry’s differentiation between COVID-19 “cases” and “patients.” “Patients and cases are the same thing in the science of medicine. Don’t play with our health and our minds!” the Oct. 1 statement from the TTB said.

The WHO statement commended Turkey on its increased testing capacity and contact tracing efforts. It said, “Turkey has been isolating all COVID-19 positive cases, regardless of their symptoms.”

It added that the WHO has been consulting with members, including Turkey, to improve reporting and data collection.

The WHO defines confirmed cases as “a person with laboratory confirmation of COVID-19 infection, irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms.”

But on Thursday, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters: “We are talking about people with symptoms. We are giving this as the daily number of patients.”

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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.