Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Turkish govt accused of hiding true extent of virus outbreak

Turkish govt accused of hiding true extent of virus outbreak

  • Updated

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s government is being accused of hiding the true extent of the country's coronavirus outbreak after the health minister revealed that the daily COVID-19 figures published by his ministry reflect only patients with symptoms and not all positive cases.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca acknowledged during a news conference late Wednesday that since July 29, Turkey has been reporting the number of patients being cared for in hospitals or at their homes. The count did not include asymptomatic positive cases, he said, ignoring a question about the number of new positive coronavirus cases per day, a key indicator of where the outbreak is headed in any country.

“We are talking about people with symptoms. We are giving this as the daily number of patients,” he told reporters.

The revelation led to an outcry on social media, with people calling on the government to reveal the true spread of the coronavirus among the population of 83 million. The hashtag asking “what Is the number of cases?” in Turkish was trending Thursday on Twitter.

The minister’s admission came after an opposition legislator, Murat Emir, claimed that the true number of daily new infections in Turkey was 19 times higher than the daily figures reported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Koca refuted the claim, insisting that all information published on a table showing Turkey’s daily coronavirus count “is correct.”

On Thursday, Emir called on Koca to stop issuing the daily coronavirus data saying; “Nobody believes it. It has no scientific value. No one takes it seriously.”

“The government is battling against the figures instead of battling the outbreak,” he said.

The Turkish Medical Association, which has for months accused the government of underreporting cases, called for transparency. The group had been questioning the daily coronavirus data after the government on July 29 changed the wording of the count from “case” to “patient.”

“You failed to lead the process transparently. You hid the truth. You failed to prevent the spread,” the group said.

Sebnem Korur Fincanci who heads the association tweeted: “The truth is our right.”

The government on Wednesday reported 1,391 new coronavirus “patients” and 65 deaths. Since the pandemic began, Turkey says 318,000 residents have been infected and 8,195 have died.

Experts say reported numbers in all countries understate the true toll of the pandemic, due to limited testing, missed cases, data tampering by some governments and other factors.


Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at and

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Concerned about COVID-19?

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

  • Updated

HEIKRUIS, Belgium (AP) — As the Friday night dinner service began earlier this month at the De Viering restaurant outside Brussels, it seemed the owners' decision to move the operation into the spacious village church to comply with coronavirus rules was paying off. The reservation book was full and the kitchen was bustling.

  • Updated

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Dutch king issued a video message Wednesday saying he had “regret in the heart” and he shouldn't have flown to Greece for a family vacation last week, a trip that was quickly broken off amid public uproar back home where people are being urged to stay home as much as possible to battle the coronavirus.

  • Updated

NEW DELHI (AP) — Just weeks after India fully opened up from a harsh lockdown and began to modestly turn a corner by cutting new coronavirus infections by near half, a Hindu festival season is raising fears that a fresh surge could spoil the hard-won gains.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News