Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca's acknowledgement that the government did not publish the full number of daily positive COVID-19 cases but only those who are symptomatic prompted outrage in the country.
Thousands of Twitter users asked the government to reveal the actual number of cases following Koca's revelation. Various opposition parties and groups have been calling on the government to be transparent since the beginning of the pandemic.
"You didn't carry out the process transparently. We've been saying this for six months. You hid the truth. You didn't prevent the outbreak from spreading," the Turkish Medical Association said in a tweet on Sept. 30.
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
Koca on Sept. 30 said the number of daily new COVID-19 "patients," which he defined as those who are symptomatic, was more important than the number of new "cases," which include those who do not show symptoms.
"Not all cases are patients because there are those who show no symptoms at all even though their tests come back positive. These create the vast majority," he said.
The Health Ministry changed the wording of the data it shares daily in July. As of July 29, the data showed the daily number of new "patients," while prior to that it showed the daily number of new "cases."Turkish Health Ministry has only been publishing symptomatic coronavirus cases, says minister
A document shared by main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Murat Emir on Sept. 29 purportedly showed the number of positive cases on Sept. 10 were 29,377, compared to the 1,512 new patients announced by the Health Ministry on that day.
Emir said the document was a screenshot of the Health Ministry's official laboratory results portal, which is inaccessible by the public.
Koca said the ministry did not have such an interface, that the document showed the wrong number of tests conducted on that day and that it had no date on it.
"I want to say that all the information on the table we give is correct," he said.
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Following Koca's statements, Emir asked who will be held accountable for hiding the truth.
"Minister Koca finally admitted that the positive cases who don't show symptoms are not included in the daily chart. Who will take responsibility for stalling the people by revealing a very small part of the truth?" Emir asked on Sept. 30.
Bakan Fahrettin Koca belirti göstermeyen pozitif vakaların büyük çoğunluğu oluşturduğunu ve günlük tabloda açıklanmadığını nihayet itiraf etti. İnsanlarımızı aylardır gerçeğin çok küçük bir bölümü ile oyalamanın sorumluluğunu kim üstlenecek? #vakasayısıkaç— Murat Emir (@muratemirchp) September 30, 2020
Another CHP deputy, Özgür Özel, said that Koca's acknowledgement is a "confession that the state lies to its citizens."
"Hiding the severity of the situation is the main reason that the struggle against the virus is not successful," Özel tweeted on Oct. 1.
"Is there any other country that hides asymptomatic positive cases?" he asked.
Vaka sayılarının gizlendiğinin , devletin vatandaşa yalan söylediğinin birinci ağızdan itirafı.— Özgür Özel (@eczozgurozel) September 30, 2020
Durumun ciddiyetinin gizlenmesi, salgınla mücadelenin başarıya ulaşmamasının temel sebebidir.
Dünyada asemptomatik pozitif vakaları gizleyen başka ülke var mıdır?#vakasayısıkaç https://t.co/xacaxtKZhz
Istanbul Medical Chamber also slammed the government, calling on authorities to "not play with our health."
"It's duty and responsibility of a scientist to inform the public appropriately. Tell the truth, be transparent and quit making politics," the chamber said.
Halkı doğru bilgilendirmek bilim insanının görev ve sorumluluğudur. Doğruları söyleyin, şeffaf olun, siyaset yapmayı bırakın.— İstanbul Tabip Odası (@istabip) September 30, 2020
Sağlığımızla oynamayın! #vakasayısıkac