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Turkish cities running out of hospital beds, ventilators due to surge in coronavirus patients

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An increasing number of Turkish cities are running out of hospital beds and ventilators due to the soaring number of coronavirus patients, according to Turkish media reports.

In a statement on Wednesday Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the rising number of new coronavirus cases in big cities such as İstanbul, İzmir and Bursa is now being seen across Turkey.

Reports coming from relatively smaller Turkish cities about overwhelmed hospitals are as alarming as the situation in Turkey’s large cities.

Şahut Duran, head of the Doctors’ Union in the western province of Manisa, told the Birgün daily that the daily number of coronavirus cases in the city has exceeded 500, the intensive care units are full and doctors have to decide which patients receive COVID-19 treatment.

“Ambulance services can’t keep up with coronavirus patients. There are some patients who die before getting to the intensive care unit. Unused areas in hospitals are being turned into intensive care units, and doctors cannot meet the increasing demand for ventilators,” he said.

On Wednesday Turkey identified 4,215 coronavirus patients, while 116 others died of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, according to a chart from the Turkish Health Ministry.

The Turkish government does not reveal the exact number of people infected with the coronavirus every day. The Health Ministry instead announces the number of “patients” who are being treated in hospitals for COVID-19, while people who have been infected with the virus but not hospitalized are excluded from the numbers. As a result the ministry has received harsh criticism for hiding the actual coronavirus figures from the public and covering up the true scale of the pandemic.

A recent statement from Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa deputy Ahmet Vehbi Bakırlıoğlu said the fact that a 65-year-old coronavirus patient in the city died because all intensive care beds were occupied confirms Duran’s revelation.

“Intensive care beds are no longer sufficient to meet the increasing demand. Doctors across Turkey will have to decide who receives coronavirus treatment. We never wanted to face such a painful situation, but it looks we will,” said Bakırlıoğlu.

Earlier this week the Turkish government announced some preventative measures aimed at getting the pandemic under control; however, it avoided declaring a full lockdown, which, according to many healthcare professionals, is a must for containing the pandemic.

Avni Çakır, governor of the northwestern province of Kastamonu, also expressed concerns on Thursday about the lack of hospital beds in the city for the increasing number of coronavirus patients.

“We are not depriving any of our people who need hospitalization of treatment, but as of today we have reached full occupancy at our hospitals. If the rise in coronavirus cases continues, we may experience a crisis in the coming days,” said the governor.

In the meantime, governor of the western province of İzmir, Selim Köşger, announced on Thursday that the number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the city had increased threefold following a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that hit the city on Oct. 30.

“İzmir was among the 10 cities in Turkey that had the fewest number of coronavirus cases, and we were trying to keep it that way. But the number of coronavirus cases has skyrocketed in the city over the past three weeks,” said the governor.

According to a statement from CHP İzmir deputy Atila Sertel on Thursday, 210 people have died in İzmir of COVID-19 over the past week.

Sertel also said the Health Ministry’s data on coronavirus cases and deaths are nothing but a deception of the public given the fact that so many people died in İzmir in one week alone.

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