The Turkish Medical Association has claimed that the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in the country is higher than the official figures announced daily by Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
According to the association’s central council, the ministry doesn’t convey the numbers to the World Health Organization (WHO) using the appropriate codes, causing the death toll to seem lesser than it actually is.
“The fact that these codes are not used in line with the suggestions of international organizations, such as WHO, causes the number of deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic to be seen lesser,” a statement released by the association said on April 8.
Turkey reported its first coronavirus case on March 11 and its first death on March 18. As of April 7, the number of cases reached 34,109 and the death toll stands at 725.
The association also drew attention to the fact that there is no parallel between the number of cases and the death toll, adding that it’s crucial for the death certificates to be prepared appropriately.
“The death toll stated in recent days is not in line with epidemiological distributions and there is no parallel between confirmed number of cases and deaths. Of course, it’s pleasing that the death toll is not increasing, but it’s worth noticing that it doesn’t fit into the pattern observed in other countries,” it said.
‘PCR results can’t be the sole determinant’
According to the association, even though there are patients whose computed tomography and clinical findings point to coronavirus, they are not recorded as COVID-19 on their death certificates since their PCR tests were not positive.
“Information from doctors of our association indicates that the reasons for deaths of these patients are cited as ‘viral pneumonia’ or ‘infectious disease,'” it said, adding that there are two international codes suggested by the WHO when preparing death certificates during the pandemic, with Turkey using the one based only on PCR results.
Earlier, Samet Mengüç, a doctor from the association’s council, said that the actual number of coronavirus cases in the country is significantly higher than the official one.
Mengüç also said that the association and medical chambers have started working towards a system that would allow data transfers from hospitals.
WHO ‘alarmed by dramatic increase in virus spread’ in Turkey
Separately, the WHO on April 8 said that it’s alarmed about the “dramatic increase” in coronavirus spread in Turkey.
“We are alarmed that Turkey has seen a dramatic increase in virus spread over the last week. 60% of cases were reported from Istanbul,” it said in a tweet.