Turkey is suspected of suppressing the true scale of its coronavirus outbreak, after an opposition MP produced documents that suggested the number of infections was twenty times higher than official figures.
Murat Emir, a member of the Republican People’s Party, said he had obtained a Turkish health ministry document which stated there were more than 29,000 positive coronavirus tests on September 10, while the public figure was only 1,512.
“If this document is true, it is time to explain the truth to our people,” Mr Ermir told Fox Turkey.
It came as the mayors of Turkey’s two largest cities expressed similar concerns about the government’s official coronavirus figures, which they said did not tally with their local estimates.
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Ekrem Imamoglu, the mayor of Istanbul, and Mansur Yavas, the mayor of Ankara, said the death rates in their cities were on a similar scale to the number of deaths nationwide.
“These contradictory numbers are really bothering us. I’ve written to the health ministry four or five times. I personally said: what is this? . . . There needs to be transparency,” Mr Imamoglu said.
Mr Yavas pointed out that last Tuesday there were 17 deaths in Ankara alone, whereas “across Turkey there are 20, 21 or 22 people” who died on the same day.
The Telegraph approached the Turkish government for comment about the reports, which it has not yet addressed.
According to official statistics, coronavirus appears to be on the wane in Turkey after it saw a peak of 5,100 daily infections in April.
In recent months, the official figure has slumped to roughly a thousand cases per day, even as many other countries undergo a severe second wave of the coronavirus.
Turkey’s economy, which leans heavily on tourism, was hit particularly hard by a nationwide lockdown and as a result ministers have been reluctant to impose new restrictions.
In total, the Turkish government says, 8,100 people have been killed by the virus and there have been 317,000 cases since the pandemic began, of which the majority have recovered.
It would not be the first time that a Middle Eastern government has faced claims of playing down coronavirus statistics.
Documents leaked in Iran over the summer suggested that the coronavirus death toll was three times higher than official figures, which state that only 14,000 people have died. There have also been reports of coronavirus stastisics in Egypt being suppressed by the country’s authoritarian government.
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