ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey will start declaring the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases from Oct. 15, its health minister said in remarks published on Sunday, following criticism that its disclosure of only symptomatic cases hid the extent of infections.
At the end of July, Turkey changed the wording of its daily coronavirus report to show the number of “patients” instead of “cases”. At a news conference on Sept 30, Koca said that the government was only sharing the number of COVID-19 positive cases with symptoms.
Medics and opposition parties criticized the practice, saying it was aimed at hiding the real scale of the pandemic and was meant to keep the economy moving.
“We will start (releasing all the numbers) on 15th,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca was quoted as saying in an interview with daily newspaper Hurriyet.
“We will share the cross sectional screening results even though they show no symptoms. We will report these to the World Health Organisation (WHO).”
Cross sectional screening tests are being conducted at airports, prisons and to people going abroad among others, Koca also said according to the interview.
Turkey was put on England’s quarantine on arrival list following its acknowledgement that it did not publish the full number of daily positive COVID-19 cases.
Turkey will continue to conduct field screening tests for coronavirus cases, Koca said according to interview.
Turkey has reported 1,500 symptomatic coronavirus patients a day in recent weeks on average, while total deaths due to the respiratory disease stand at 8,778, according to health ministry data.
Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun, Editing by William Maclean