Following an admission by Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca that the government does not add the number of people infected with the coronavirus who are asymptomatic to the final statistics, the European press office of the World Health Organization (WHO) said they have requested additional information from the Turkish side, according to a report by the BirGün daily.
The news comes after Koca’s bombshell revelation on Wednesday, prompting outrage among the Turkish public. Koca made the admission following 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.
After Ankara announced that it has not published the full number of daily positive COVID-19 cases, European countries have begun revising their travel precautions regarding Turkey.
The UK quickly removed Turkey from its quarantine-free list after the Turkish health minister’s statement. In a tweet yesterday, British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said, “The Turkish Health Ministry has been defining the number of new COVID-19 cases in a different way to the definition used by international organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, so we have updated our risk assessment for the country.”
We're also removing TURKEY from the list – the Turkish Health Ministry has been defining the number of new COVID-19 cases in a different way to the definition used by international organisations such as WHO and ECDC, so we have updated our risk assessment for the country.
— Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) October 1, 2020
Accordingly, Turkish travelers arriving in England and Scotland are obliged to self-isolate for two weeks starting from October 3, officials said as they expanded their COVID-19 quarantine lists.
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.
Sağlık Bakanı Fahrettin Koca, belirti göstermeyen ama testi pozitif çıkan vakaların günlük açıklanan tabloda yer almadığını açıkladı. 6 aydır bunu söylüyorduk. Süreci şeffaf yürütmediniz. Gerçekleri gizlediniz. Salgının yayılmasına engel olmadınız. #vakasayısıkaç pic.twitter.com/7PA2c2JNYl
— TürkTabipleriBirliği (@ttborgtr) September 30, 2020