Surge in senior mortality rate contradicts Turkish gov’t data on COVID-19 – analysts

Analysts have taken to social media to examine what they are calling a discrepancy between the Turkish government’s official coronavirus death toll and Istanbul’s unusually high morality rates among those above the age of 65.

The mortality rate for seniors over the age of 65 has seen a significant uptick in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul during March, with more than 200 extra deaths compared to previous years, analyst Cengiz Zopluoğlu said.

The public data Zopluoğlu’s analysis is based on does not include cause of death, however, as the global pandemic of COVID-19, since first being detected Turkey on March 11, has claimed over 160 lives.

“I think any healthy eye can see that there is a change after the beginning of March. There is no reason to expect such a change in the number of 64+ deaths after March while the same kind of increase is not observed prior to March compared to the last 5-year data,” Zopluoğlu said on Twitter.

At the time of analysis, Turkey’s official coronavirus death toll was at 131, which included 39 deaths on March 28 and 29, days not included in Zopluoğlu’s analysis.

Another analyst, an academic at Columbia University, Abdullah Aydoğan said, the number of senior citizens who died in Istanbul from March 20 to 27 this year is 325 more than the 10-year average for the same period.

Even if all coronavirus deaths in Turkey for the same week of March occurred in Istanbul, the official number of 88 for the period “does not come close to the extraordinary increase,” Aydoğan said.

Opposition lawmaker Veli Ağbaba on Sunday brought to public attention a discrepancy between the number of COVID-19 deaths announced by the funeral services of the Istanbul Municipality and the official numbers the Health Ministry announced.

Publicly available data, now removed from Turkey’s e-state application, showed on March 28 that 20 people lost their lives due to the virus, while the ministry statement for the same day cited the total number of COVID-19 deaths throughout the country as 16.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, late on Sunday night, said the discrepancy claims were baseless, and that the numbers the ministry announced were “based on evidence,” and “real-time, true data,” without citing any evidence.