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Experts have claimed that the Health Ministry has been hiding the actual number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country amid the worsening situation.

Turkey on Aug. 2 reported 18 deaths and 987 cases, bringing the total death toll to 5,728. The ratio of patients with pneumonia was revealed as 8.5 percent.

“The number of seriously ill patients seems to be under control across Turkey,” Koca said, adding that the lack of precautions during Eid al-Adha and summer holidays is worrying in terms of its possible outcomes.

The Health Ministry has been under fire for removing the number of patients in intensive care and intubated patients from its daily COVID-19 data chart and replacing them with the ratio of patients with pneumonia and data on seriously ill patients.

Koca on Aug. 1 said that the changes in the chart were implemented in line with the decisions of the ministry’s Science Committee, while refuting claims that COVID-19 cases are presented as lung disease patients.

“I’ve been saying every day that the number of seriously ill patients is increasing. Would someone who hides something say that?” Koca said, adding that the main fear is for the cases to increase alongside influenza cases in September.

Science Committee member Prof. Ateş Kara, however, said that he doesn’t know the exact reason behind changing the chart parameters.

Minister urges caution

The minister also criticized those who don’t abide by the precautions.

“It’s inevitable for the numbers to turn towards a negative direction if this relaxed mood continues. Our citizens should rid themselves of this mood before we re-introduce serious limitations. Otherwise, we’d be forced to adopt regional measures once again,” Koca said.

“Precautions were forgotten and physical contact increased following the normalization process,” he added.

On Aug. 2, he urged people to be cautious during their holidays.

Experts claim that Turkey’s moves to revive the tourism sector amid the pandemic have led to an increase in the number of coronavirus cases, as they also warned authorities that a grave situation will be faced in the upcoming days.

Turkish Medical Association (TTB) chair Sinan Adıyaman said that the number of cases are held below 1,000, but the number tests conducted has also decreased.

“The average number of tests is 22 percent. The number of new cases decreased by 23 percent. The less tests you carry out, the less new patients you diagnose,” Adıyaman told daily Cumhuriyet, adding that there are increases in the number of patients in Diyarbakır, Urfa, Erzurum, Rize, Mardin, Çanakkale and Zonguldak.

According to Adıyaman, intensive care units are full in the Aegean province of Manisa.

“The precautions are adopted in line with economic and political interests,” he said.

Prof. Nilay Etiler, a public health specialist, said they “predict” that the actual number of cases is higher than what Koca reveals every day.

“We can’t see the number of intubated patients and those in intensive care anymore and we don’t know what seriously ill patient means,” Etiler said, adding that a second wave will be triggered once people are back from holidays and schools reopen.

Another expert to question the official data was Prof. Kayıhan Pala, who said that the number of cases are increasing despite the decreasing number of tests.

He also urged authorities to not reopen schools in August as planned.

“The number of daily cases needs to be below one in a hundred thousand. The pandemic is not under control in Turkey,” Pala said.

“It’s possible for the flu cases to increase starting from September. The two may put our health system in a difficult situation,” he added.

‘Censorship on the daily chart is alarming’

Opposition Good (İYİ) Party deputy Aytun Çıray, meanwhile, slammed changing the parameters on the daily chart and the government’s struggle against the virus.

“What this normalization process that our country entered on June 1 is actually Britain’s her immunity model,” Çıray said.

“The censorship imposed on the daily COVID-19 chart is alarming,” he added.