A 110-day-old Syrian baby died of coronavirus in Turkey’s southeastern Mardin province in April, but the details of the case were not shared with the public, according to a report by the Mezopotamya news agency (MA) on Tuesday.
The youngest death from COVID-19 in Turkey reportedly took place on April 3, when 110-day-old Hace Engin died two days after being admitted to Nusaybin State Hospital after showing symptoms of the infection for four days, the records of the Mardin Medical Chamber showed.
Although the case was added to the daily coronavirus information chart released by the Health Ministry and Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on April 8 that there was a child between the ages of 0 and 5 who died of COVID-19, no further information about the case was shared with the public.
Mustafa Volkan Binbaş, chair of the Mardin Medical Chamber, criticized the authorities for failing to make any further statement about the country’s youngest victim of COVID-19 in an attempt to cover it up.
“An infant aged 3.5 months lost her life, and this information was not shared with the public. Turkey’s scientists were not informed about a case that could have provided data to determine the fatality rate of coronavirus in this age group,” Binbaş told MA.
Underlining that publicly sharing full information about all COVID-19 cases is important for both Turkey and the rest of the world, Binbaş added that covering up details in such a case violates both children’s rights and the people’s right to information.
“Based on our experiences and the experiences of fellow doctors and healthcare workers in issues such as the procurement and transport of vaccines, we have had strong suspicions that the authorities apply a double standard in health services,” he said, adding that the details of the case wouldn’t have been covered up if the death had occurred in a western province.
The Turkish authorities have been criticized for lacking transparency in their handling of the pandemic ever since the country reported its first COVID-19 case on March 11.
Minister Koca in October made a bombshell revelation after months-long public pressure and admitted that the government was not adding the number of people infected with the coronavirus who were asymptomatic to the final statistics, prompting outrage among the Turkish public.
The ministry, which had been announcing up to 6,000 daily cases as new “patients,” suddenly announced a staggering 28,351 infections on Nov. 25, a figure that included asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, causing Turkey to jump from one of the least-affected countries to the eighth-most affected in the world.
Most recently, the ministry came under fire for announcing on Dec. 12 that as many as 1.1 million people had recovered from COVID-19 in a single day, making Turkey the fifth in the world in terms of coronavirus recoveries.