Turkey has expanded the criteria for who should be tested for possible coronavirus infection.
The focus used to be on people who had been to countries with “high risk” within the last 14 days and who showed symptoms of infection. But with the first infection case having been confirmed early on March 11, the country altered the criteria to expand testing.
Now, as long as the patient shows symptoms of infection and has a history of traveling abroad within the last 14 days, independent of which country it is, they will be tested.
The announcement was made by Prof. Dr. Tevfik Özsü, a member of the recently established Health Ministry Coronavirus Scientific Committee.
“People who have contacted these people [suspected to have been infected with the virus] will be also tested” Özsu said during the National Lung Health Congress held by the Lung Health and Intensive Care Association (ASYOD) in the southern province of Antalya on March 12.
An increase in the number of tests will improve the chances of detecting possible coronavirus cases, said Özlü. “It is important to detect more cases. But, also we need to emphasize that there is no yet an epidemic in Turkey. All suspected cases were tested and so far, one tested positive for the virus,” he said.
Özlü said that coronavirus test is not economical and the country’s capacity is limited. “Tests are not for everyone; they are not economical; and no other country uses it any other way. We can apply the tests to only those who show symptoms,” Özlü said, adding that if the number of cases increases in the future, the criteria of application might change.
‘Coronavirus tests not sufficient, also lung scan tests should be applied‘
Meanwhile, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB)’s president Sinan Adıyman said during an interview with BBC Turkish that coronavirus tests have an “error margin” and lung scan tests should be also applied to suspected cases.
“Tests conducted even in the U.S. have an accuracy of 60-70 percent [in detecting the virus]. So, the test needs to be applied a couple of times for suspected cases, and even if the test result comes out negative, lung scan tests should be applied to patients who suffer from high fever and respiratory stress,” he said.