An online risk assessment map showing the concentration of coronavirus cases in İstanbul reveals the severity of the pandemic in Turkey’s most populous city as it shows the entire city in the highest risk level color of red except for its forests, sea and highways.
The map is part of a mobile application developed by the Turkish Health Ministry — “Hayat Eve Sığar [HES]” (Life Fits into Home) — allowing users to see a COVID-19 risk rating of green, yellow, orange or red.
According to Pınar Saip, head of the İstanbul Doctors’ Union, there are around 10,000 new coronavirus cases in İstanbul, and there is no longer a sufficient number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients.
“When the condition of a patient in a normal hospital room deteriorates, we have to wait for an intensive care bed to free up,” she told the Cumhuriyet daily.
Saip also expressed concern for other people whose treatment is postponed due to the pandemic, saying that there may be an increase in the number of patients with other health problems.
“I think a lockdown of 15 days, to be declared by giving all social and economic assurances to the citizens, will break this vicious cycle,” she noted.
Despite a surge in the number of coronavirus infections in the country, the Turkish government refuses to take strict preventative measures to contain the pandemic. Evening lockdowns were introduced over the weekend for the first time since June, with businesses such as restaurants and bars ordered to close.
Professor Mehmet Ceyhan, who heads the Association of Infectious Diseases in Turkey, said it is not only İstanbul that is in red in the coronavirus tracking application, but the entire country. He said 70 percent of intensive care units are full, according to data from the Health Ministry, and that more and more hospitals are running out of beds for coronavirus patients. He called on the government to conduct widespread testing to detect asymptomatic cases and take stricter measures to reduce the surge in the number of infections.
The Health Ministry identified 7,381 coronavirus patients on Tuesday while the daily coronavirus death toll in the country over the past 24 hours stood at 161.
Turkey does not publicly report confirmed coronavirus cases in people without COVID-19 symptoms, a policy that has been criticized for hiding the true scope of the outbreak.