Turkey admits not including asymptomatic people in its count.

In Istanbul on Wednesday. The country has not imposed an official national lockdown during the pandemic.
Credit...Erdem Sahin/EPA, via Shutterstock

Turkey has acknowledged that it was not making all confirmed coronavirus cases public in its daily announced tally, but counting only those patients showing symptoms.

Many doctors for months have been warning that the actual scale of the pandemic is much wider in Turkey than has been depicted in the official figures.

“We have been saying that for six months,” said the Turkish Medical Association on Twitter, addressing the government. “You concealed the truth. You did not stop the epidemic.”

Turkey had imposed a partial lockdown during weekends and official holidays, banned travel between cities and closed social facilities like gyms and cafes, but it avoided any measure that would further harm an already staggering economy. The country has recorded at least 318,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,200 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

The country had been announcing daily figures since mid-March, when the first confirmed coronavirus case was detected. Until the end of July, the government figures included the number of daily confirmed cases, but since then has changed its wording to “the daily number of patients,” although there was not a major diversion in the figures.

“Symptomatic ones are called patients, asymptomatic ones called cases,” the health minister, Fahrettin Koca, said Wednesday. “What we are announcing is the daily number of patients.”

Mr. Koca said the tally included every patient, whether hospitalized or treated at home, stopping short of revealing figures on asymptomatic cases, despite being asked twice.

He rejected an opposition lawmaker’s claim that the actual number of cases is 20 times more than the official figures.

“Nothing covert is done in this struggle,” Mr. Koca said, noting that asymptomatic cases were being detected and isolated, too.

Yet the opposition saw his remarks as a confession on concealing the truth.

“You cannot manage a pandemic by hiding the truth from the people,” said Murat Emir, an opposition lawmaker who has expressed skepticism about the official count. “Who is going to take the responsibility of stalling our people with only a very small portion of the truth?” he said.