A deputy from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has criticized the Health Ministry for distributing coronavirus test kits to only certain health centers.
In a parliamentary question submitted to Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, Meral Danış Beştaş asked why test kits are not found in family health centers and if the existence of these tests in only “certain medical centers and hospitals will adversely affect the spread of the virus.”
Beştaş said that family health centers are routinely visited by pregnant women, the elderly and children, who are considered to be high-risk groups in terms of infection.
“The public is concerned that the necessary kits, which will determine if the patient has the COVID-19 virus or not, are not found in all health centers,” the HDP deputy said.
Beştaş also recalled that health officials in family centers have not be provided with protection equipment against the virus.
Beştaş asked which hospitals in Turkey currently have coronavirus tests and asked about the procedures run by health officials if someone suspected to have the virus visits the hospital.
As seasonal flu has the symptoms most similar to coronavirus, Beştaş asked how many people applied to medical centers with seasonal flu complaints since the outbreak of the virus and “what kind of precautions” were then taken by the officials.
Beştaş asked Minister Koca if the Health Ministry is planning to put into service mobile health units or vans across the country to detect suspected cases of coronavirus.
She also asked if authorities were planning to expand the distribution of coronavirus test kits to more health centers.
Following the announcement of the first confirmed case early on March 11, a member of the Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Committee said that Turkey has expanded the criteria for who can be tested for the virus — but only to cover those who show symptoms of infection and have recently traveled abroad.
Prof. Dr. Tevfik Özsü said on March 12 that coronavirus tests are 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.