Monday, November 30, 2020
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Turkey faces alarming increase in COVID-19 cases


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – When Turkey changed the way it reported daily COVID-19 cases, it confirmed what medical groups and critics had long suspected: that the country faces an alarming increase in infections that is saturating the health system. Health.

In a sea change, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week resumed reporting of all positive coronavirus tests, not just the number of patients with symptoms receiving treatment, bringing the number of daily cases to more than 30,000. With the new data, the country went from being one of the least affected in Europe to one of the hardest hit.

That came as no surprise to the Turkish Medical Association, which has warned for months that previous government figures concealed the severity of the spread and that a lack of transparency was contributing to the increase. The group contends, however, that official numbers remain low compared to their estimate of at least 50,000 new infections per day.

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No country can report exact figures on the spread of the disease, as many asymptomatic cases go unrecognized, but the above way of counting made Turkey look relatively good in international comparisons, well below countries like Italy, Britain and France. .

That changed on Wednesday, as Turkey’s number of daily cases jumped from 7,400 to 28,300.

Hospitals are overloaded and medical personnel are exhausted, Sebnem Korur Fincanci, who heads the medical association, told The Associated Press.

“It’s the perfect storm,” said Fincanci, whose group has been targeted by Erdogan and his allies for questioning the government’s figures and its response to the outbreak.

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While the Health Ministry ensures that 70% of intensive care unit beds are occupied, Ebru Kiraner, who heads the Association of Intensive Care Nurses, says that ICU occupancy in Istanbul hospitals is almost full. There is a shortage of nurses and the existing nursing staff is exhausted, Kiraner added.

Official daily deaths from COVID-19 have also risen steadily to record highs, reaching 13,373 on Saturday with 182 new deaths.

Meanwhile, the country has reached an agreement to receive 50 million doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company SinoVac and hopes to begin administering it to medical personnel and the chronically ill next month. It is also in talks to buy the vaccine developed by Pfizer in cooperation with pharmaceutical company BioNTech. A vaccine developed by Turkey is scheduled to be ready for use in April.

Erdogan said he also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the possibility of acquiring a vaccine developed by that country.

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Zeynep Bilginsoy reported from Istanbul.





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