Turkey's daily death toll from the coronavirus hit a record high of 161 on Nov. 24 according to data from the Health Ministry, after the country introduced nationwide measures last week amid a surge in cases.
The official data said there were 7,381 new symptomatic patients in Turkey, the highest new daily figure since the switch in the reporting format.
Since July, Ankara has only reported symptomatic COVID-19 patients, a move critics say hides the true scale of the outbreak.
On Twitter, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca urged the public to stay away from crowds unless absolutely necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
Bugün tespit edilen 7.381 yeni hastamız var. Ağır hasta sayımız 4.543’e ulaştı. Salgının seyrini değiştirmek elimizde. Aldığımız tedbir ve kısıtlamaların daha iyi ve hızlı netice vermesi için desteğiniz şart. Zorunlu olmadıkça kalabalıklardan uzak durun. https://t.co/RVlhe7786O— Dr. Fahrettin Koca (@drfahrettinkoca) November 24, 2020
The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) Cemeteries Department once again contradicted the COVID-19 data submitted by the government, saying that 435 people died in Istanbul on Nov. 24, and 211 of those lost their lives due to an “infectious disease.”
The Turkish Medical Association has been for months now accusing the government of hiding the real numbers of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, warning that hospitals are running out of beds.
Last week, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced tighter restrictions in the fight against the virus, including the introduction of weekend partial curfews and limitations on the opening hours of restaurants, cafes, and shopping malls.
The new measures announced were criticized by Turkish healthcare workers’ and doctors’ unions as not going far enough.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, from the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), also called for a lockdown of at least two weeks to contain an “out of control” rise in coronavirus cases and said virus-related deaths in the city alone outstrip reported nationwide figures.
“This job is not like it was in the March-April-May period (during the first wave). The circle is getting narrower,” he said earlier in November.
Meral Akşener, leader of the opposition İYİ (Good) Party, also finds the government's new measures as insufficient. “I am calling to the ruling party from here: the pandemic looks out of control. The picture in Istanbul is a total catastrophe,” Akşener said last week, uring a 14-day nationwide lockdown