Turkey finally reports the real numbers of COVID-19 cases

Turkey is now expressing an alarming wave of cases that are quickly exhausting the Turkish health system; this affirmed what medical groups and opposition parties had long assumed when Turkey changed how it reports daily COVID-19 infections.

This week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government reported all positive coronavirus tests, not only the number of patients treated for symptoms, which increase the number of daily cases to more than 30,000. Thus, the country changed from being one of Europe’s least affected countries to one of the worst-hit.

In fact, the Turkish Medical Association didn’t surprise because it has been alerting for months that the government’s previous numbers were hiding the spread’s graveness and that the lack of transparency was contributing to the surge. However, the group confirmed that the ministry’s numbers remain low compared with its estimate of at least 50,000 new infections per day.

Moreover, each country couldn’t report exact numbers on the disease’s spread because multiple asymptomatic cases don’t discover. The earlier way of counting made Turkey seem relatively well-off in international comparisons, with daily new fewer cases with those reported in European countries including Italy, Britain and France. The situation changed on Wednesday as Turkey’s daily caseload almost quadrupled from about 7,400 to 28,300.

Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who heads the association and whose group has come under attack from Erdogan and his nationalist allies for doubting the government’s figures and its response to the outbreak, informed the Associated Press that the country’s hospitals are overstretched, medical staffs are burned out and contract tracers, who were once credited for keeping the outbreak under check, are struggling to track transmissions. He also said: It’s the perfect storm.

Although the health minister has settled the ICU bed occupancy rate at 70 percent, Ebru Kiraner, who heads the Istanbul-based Intensive Care Nurses’ Association, states that intensive care unit beds in Istanbul’s hospitals are almost full, and all doctors struggling to find room for critically ill patients. She also added: There is a shortage of nurses and the existing nursing staff is exhausted.

Ebru Kiraner informed The AP: ICU nurses have not been able to return to their normal lives since March. Their children have not seen their mask-less faces in months.

Nevertheless, Erdogan declared that there was no problem with the hospitals’ capacities. He also blamed the surge on the public’s failure to wear masks, which is mandatory and to respect social distancing rules. Turkey suspended last month permission for health care workers and temporarily forbidden resignations and early retirements during the pandemic, which demonstrating the seriousness of the outbreak. Similar prohibitions were also put in place for three months in March.

Furthermore, the official daily COVID-19 deaths have also progressively increased to record numbers, reaching 13,373 on Saturday with 182 new deaths, reflecting the fortune for the country that had been praised for managing to keep fatalities low, but those record numbers still debated too.

On his part, Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu related that 186 people had died of infectious diseases in the city on Nov. 22, a day on which the government declared only 139 COVID-19 deaths for the whole of the country. The mayor also stated that almost 450 burials are taking place daily in the city of 15 million compared with the average 180-200 recorded in November the previous year. Imamoglu, who is from Turkey’s main opposition party, also said: We can only beat the outbreak through a process that is transparent, adding: Russia and Germany have announced a high death toll. Did Germany lose its shine? Did Russia collapse?

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