Turkish Health Minister announces new hospitals, more than 1,600 daily COVID-19 cases

Turkey recorded 1,612 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 deaths, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced in a press conference on Friday. There are currently 20,883 active cases in the country, according to official figures.

The number of severely ill patients surpassed 1,000 on Wednesday, and was recorded as 1,076 on Friday.

Koca has not posted his daily Twitter briefing since September 1, but official figures can be seen on a ministry web page.

Turkey's coronavirus figures for Sept. 4
Turkey's coronavirus figures for Sept. 4

 

Koca said disregard for social distancing measures had resulted in many healthcare workers getting infected. Medical organisations in the country have cited lack of personal protective equipment in some hospitals, the exclusion of private hospitals from pandemic treatment, and long shifts with few breaks in between as reasons for at least eight doctors, 13 medical professionals in total, dying of COVID-19 related complications within the span of one week.

The spread of COVID-19 was most rapid in central and southeastern Anatolia, Koca said, where family ties are strongest, and people are most loyal to traditions, Koca said.

Among provinces with the highest rise in case numbers, Koca cited Diyarbakır, mardin, şanluıurfa, batman, siirt and Şırnak. “We are constantly monitoring the occupancy rates for clinics and intensive care units in hospitals,” the minister said. “There hasn’t been a large-scale problem nationwide, but in some provinces we have had problems due to a rapid rise in cases.”

In Batman, a hospital with 440 beds will be instated by the end of the month, Koca said. According to the minister, there were 116 ICU beds in the province in March, with 17 beds already added and 103 additions to follow. The ICU occupancy rate is 79 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 44 percent in the province.

Diyarbakır had 370 ICU beds in March, with 44 already added and 106 additions to follow. ICU occupancy rate is 66 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 17.5 percent.

Mardin had 139 ICU beds in March, with 43 additions to follow. ICU occupancy rate is 81 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 44 percent.

Siirt had 63 ICU beds in March, with 20 additions to follow. ICU occupancy rate is 62 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 12 percent.

Şanlıurfa had 370 ICU beds in March, with 33 already added and 110 additions to follow. ICU occupancy rate is 74 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 31 percent.

In Şırnak, a gynaecological hospital was opened to the public with 125 beds. The province had 69 ICU beds in March, with 40 already added and 13 additions to follow. ICU occupancy rate is 58 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 12 percent.

Hospital occupancy rate nationwide is 51 percent, ICU occupancy rate 68 percent, and respirator occupancy rate 31 percent, Koca said.

The rise in case numbers has been pulled back to a manageable level with new efforts and measures implemented, Koca said. According to the minister, new infection rates dropped by 56 percent in Batman, 49 percent in Diyarbakır, 47 percent in Mardin, 37 percent in Siirt, 34 percent in Şanlıurfa, and 42 percent in Şırnak, “in recent days.”

Koca announced that city hospitals would be constructed in these six provinces, to be paid for out of the general budget. Last year, the Health Ministry decided to abandon a public-private partnership model for the construction of the highly contested large-scale hospitals, due to the high strain they put on the ministry’s budget.