Aynur Tekin / DUVAR

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s announcement that the ministry has been excluding asymptomatic COVID-19 patients from its official numbers destroyed trust in the institution, and the minister should resign, Uludağ University’s Prof. Kayıhan Pala said.

“Excuses like ‘asymptomatic patients aren’t important’ aim to distract from the fact that real numbers are hidden,” the professor said.

Also a member of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) COVID-19 Committee, the professor said that the government has failed, since March, to reveal the number of patients who tested negative for the virus but presented symptoms.

“The TTB’s theory that there were many more cases than revealed was confirmed thanks to the press. Even if he hadn’t confirmed it, this reality has been in front of our noses the whole time,” Pala said.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients who died in September have surpassed half of April’s numbers, where the number of deaths had peaked, the professor noted.

“As of today, none of the numbers from the Health Ministry can be trusted,” the professor said, noting the importance of re-establishing trust with the public, as well as with health workers.

Noting that the pandemic will continue for another year or so, the professor urged the Health Minister to resign, or to be removed from his post.

“A minister who is able to gather experts around themselves should be appointed, and immediately release transparent numbers to the public,” Pala added.

Lastly, Turkey needs to involve labor organizations, health workers’ unions and scientists in the process of managing the pandemic, Pala noted.

Meanwhile, Koca reported 1,429 new diagnoses on Oct. 4, while 1,475 patients receive intensive care.