The Turkish government has imposed weekend closings only and has prohibited people under the age of 20 and over the age of 65 from leaving their homes during the week to limit the economic impact of the pandemic.
The Turkish Ministry of Health said the death toll was relatively low thanks to treatment protocols in the country, which involved two existing drugs – the controversial anti-malaria hydroxychloroquine touted by President Trump and the Japanese antiviral favipiravir.
“Doctors are prescribing hydroxychloroquine to anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus,” Dr. Sema Turan, a member of the Turkish government’s coronavirus advisory committee, told CBS News. Hospital patients can also receive favipiravir if they have breathing problems, she said.
Turan said the combination of drugs appeared to “delay or eliminate the need for intensive care for patients.” But it is important to note that the use of the drug by Turkey is not a clinically controlled trial; there is no control group of patients who did not receive the drug to compare the results.
Clinical trials are underway in the United States and elsewhere, but the results are not yet clear. Preliminary studies on hydroxychloroquine have shown.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use of hydroxychloroquine for patients with coronavirus, but hasin clinical trials or under close observation by doctors, citing an observed risk of heart complications.
Comparisons between the mortality rates reported by countries, as proposed by Turkey, are of limited use, as different countries tabulate the statistics used to determine these rates in different ways and with varying reliability.
Mortality is essentially a measure of the proportion of people diagnosed with a disease who die, so it is essential to have an accurate picture of the number of infections.
Turkey has so far performed around 948,000 COVID-19 tests, according to the data collection site worldmeters.info. This equates to a test rate of around 11,200 people per million people. In comparison, the United States has tested nearly 19,000 people per million, and proactivealmost 25,000 per million.
While Turkey’s relatively low test rate could suggest even more impressive death numbers, there are also fears that the official death toll for the country – the other half of the mortality equation – might to be a significant understatement.
The Turkish Medical Association, the country’s largest medical union, has criticized the government for not using broader diagnostic criteria approved by the World Health Organization in counting deaths from COVID-19, saying that the problem of questionable statistics may well be universal. The global death toll from COVID-19 could be up to 60% higher than currently reported, according to a recent Financial Times survey that cited data from 14 countries.