Ogün Akkaya / DUVAR

After three months of ‘normalization’ policies following a decline in Turkey’s daily coronavirus cases, the official numbers have shot up and medical professionals have reasons to doubt those figures, and are concerned that a second wave of the virus could sweep the country in the fall. 

As of September 1, there were 270,000 reported cases of coronavirus and 6370 deaths. While the figures paint the picture of a relative success story, all of the country’s medical chambers have reason to doubt their validity, said Kocaeli Medical Chamber chairman Ömer Ardaman. 

“The number of cases that we have encountered have risen seriously. Based on our research the number of [official] cases should be higher. In particular after the [Eid al-Adha] holiday there was a serious increase. One doctor alone is witnessing 7-8 cases every day,” Ardaman said. 

When looking at “Hayat Eve Sığar,” the government’s smartphone app that maps the virus, the districts of Gebze, Dilovası, Çayırova and Darıca in Kocaeli, which are just to the east of Istanbul and all have a high number of factories, have seen high numbers of cases. According to Ardaman, this is an indicator of how in Turkey, like throughout the world, the economy is being prioritized over containing the virus. 

“People are working side by side in the factories, which makes it easier for a worker to contract the virus and spread it. Since not enough attention was paid to social isolation on the job it is natural that the number of cases have increased,” Ardaman said. 

Nearly six months of the epidemic has caused serious strain on the country’s healthcare system and the people that ensure it functions, many of whom themselves are not being tested for the virus. 

“People who don’t see the state doctors aren’t taking the situation seriously. The healthcare workers that we speak with are growing tired of this and have started to say ‘we are getting sick so people can walk around comfortably.’ You are even conducting tests twice a week on football players that are not coming into contact with patients but you are not testing healthcare workers, this is an extreme situation,” Ardaman said.