Turkey's Strange Coronavirus Reporting Moves

Turkey reported the third-highest number of Covid-19 cases, 28,351, behind the US and India on November 25, changing its disputed reporting system.

Turkey Surprises with the Way it Reports Cases, Again

Turkey's Ministry of Health made this switch regarding the tally of all positive cases, including asymptomatic ones, after strong criticisms from the scientific world, the World Health Organization, and opposition parties claiming that this cover-up hid the accurate scale of the outbreak. The country has been referring to cases with clear symptoms and hospitalization needs as patients whose number rose to 6,814 on November 27. Turkey's official coronavirus death toll, also disputed, stood at 13,000 in late November, with projections pointing to a little shy of 20,000 by the end of the year. Fahrettin Koca, Turkey's Minister of Health, repeatedly warns citizens about the likely "radical measures" as the situation worsens with the pandemic's current course.

The government first had to impose partial weekend curfews (lock-downs after 8 PM on Saturday and Sunday) along with limitations on restaurants and cafes - the first strict measures after the normalization period in early June and now turned to full weekend lockdowns as announced by President Erdoğan on November 30.

These measures remain disputed by medical groups and the oppositional media who draw a contrast with the permissions for a long while and the insufficient protection for the elderly (aged 65 and higher according to the Turkish regulations) who were not allowed to leave their homes for a few months until recently.

Is Opposition after Putting Pressure on the Government over Baseless Claims?

Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Mayor of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, has been more vocal regarding the discrepancy over statistics saying that "even the daily death toll in Istanbul is 50-60 higher than the announced national number." The ministry announced 168 Covid-related deaths on the same day, while the Istanbul municipality's cemeteries department recorded 203 deaths in the "infectious diseases" category. The Turkish Medical Association, the largest group of medical doctors in the country, shares a scarier average daily number of non-hospitalized cases as many cities report stories of widespread infection.

Turkey's three major cities saw the occupancy rates of their hospital's intensive care units exceed 70 percent, which is the highest number reported by the Turkish government since the beginning of the outbreak. Meanwhile, the Turkish government strives to minimize the pandemic's fallout by offering salary incentives and other loans although it is squeezed with the depreciation of the lira and necessary interest hikes. The country is deprived of tourism revenues, which plays an important role in terms of closing the current account deficit. The government has a burden of providing or facilitating a 2-billion-dollar package for the airliners among many other industries according to a trusted Turkish new outlet.