Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca made a bombshell revelation on Wednesday, saying that the government does not add the number of people infected with the coronavirus who are asymptomatic to the final statistics, prompting outrage among the Turkish public.
Answering a question posed by Öykü Tüccar from NTV at a daily press briefing on COVID-19 numbers, Health Minister Koca said: “Not every coronavirus case is a COVID-19 patient. Some do not show symptoms. We do not publish the number of cases. We publish the number of patients.”
The revelation confounded media outlets, which have been reporting the patient figures on daily coronavirus charts posted by Koca as the number of confirmed cases per day.
Koca’s admission came after the disclosure of official documents by a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) who said official data records case numbers 20 times higher than what is being announced to the public.
CHP lawmaker Murat Emir on Tuesday had released documents obtained from the Health Ministry’s Laboratories Information Management System that said there were 29,377 positive coronavirus test results on September 10, while the ministry announced only 1,512 new COVID-19 cases that day.
Emir tweeted that the minister had confirmed his allegations of covering up COVID-19 figures.
Vaka sayılarının gizlendiğine yönelik açıklamalarımız dünya basınında.@Reuters @business @Telegraph @washingtonpost pic.twitter.com/lvHvbY3SW8
— Murat Emir (@muratemirchp) October 1, 2020
The Turkish Medical Association (TBB) also took a swipe at the minister, holding him responsible for the spread of virus in the country by hiding the true numbers.
A Turkish doctor condemned the minister for his “case-patient” polemics in order to deceive the public.
“[It has been revealed that] he [the minister] was not telling the truth from the very beginning. To date, I have never commented on my colleague [the minister, as he is also a doctor]. This time, however, I will not be silent. I am ashamed of a colleague who does not tell the truth [to the public] but slavishly serves the power [the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government] by engaging in polemics,” Dr. Ergin Koçyıldırım tweeted late on Wednesday.