The president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), Sinan Adıyaman, has criticized the relatively low number of coronavirus tests conducted in Turkey, saying the country has so far only done about 7,000 tests.
“We need to indicate that the number of tests conducted for this virus …. falls way short than what is required. We know that tests have been conducted for 7,000 patients so far [in Turkey]. But, countries which have been successful in the struggle against the epidemic shows that this number needs to much higher,” Adıyaman said during a press meeting held in the capital Ankara on March 16.
Adıyaman’s comments came after Turkey identified 12 new cases of the coronavirus on March 16, bringing the total tally to 18. However, this number is still considered to be relatively low compared to other countries.
“We are receiving unconfirmed information that the number of patients [in Turkey] is much higher than 18. We call on the Health Ministry to govern the crisis together…We need to act in coordination,” Adıyaman said.
Adıyaman also touched the number of coronavirus test kits produced in Turkey which are manufactured by an authorized private company funded by the government. Adıyman said that about 2,000 test kits are produced per week, but this number should be increased.
Adıyaman called on the Health Ministry to reveal the number of coronavirus tests conducted per day in the country and indicate how many of these tests came out positive and how many negative.
The TTB head also called on the Health Ministry to increase the number of health centers performing the coronavirus tests. “The fact that tests are performed in a few number of health centers is a shortcoming of whose importance will be understood gradually in the future. The number of test center needs to be increased swiftly and the university labs with sufficient infrastructure need to be incorporated into the process.”
Adıyaman also advised people to pay attention to their hygiene and keep physical space themselves and others. He suggested that people try to avoid crowds and maintain a distance of at least 1-2 meters from those around them.
Following the announcement of Turkey’s 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.