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Study reveals Turkey’s coronavirus death toll 4 times higher than official figure

coronavirus Turkey cemetery

Morgue workers wearing suits and face masks stand next to newly-buried graves of people who died of COVID-19, on May 21, 2020, at a cemetery in Istanbul, amid the COVID-19 outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus. AFP

The coronavirus death toll since the outbreak of the pandemic in Turkey on March 11 is four times higher than the official figure, according to the results of a study by the New York-based Columbia Data Analytics, Deutsche Welle Turkish version reported on Tuesday, citing an academic working for the organization.

As part of the study conducted by Professor Onur Başer of Columbia Data Analytics, Turkey’s mortality statistics between 2017 and 2020 on the digital platform e-state, a resource providing access to government services, were examined for a comparison of the mortality statistics after the outbreak of the pandemic between March 17 and Dec. 31.

Başer said there are data on mortality statistics in only nine provinces on e-state — İstanbul, Bursa, Denizli, Kahramanmaraş, Kocaeli, Konya, Malatya, Sakarya and Tekirdağ — making up 35 percent of the Turkish population. Başer said he does not know why mortality statistics are not made available for the other provinces on e-state.

“According to our study completed in the early days of January, there were an extra 35,165 deaths in the nine cities [compared to the previous three years] in this period. When the data collected from the nine cities were applied to the entire country, it made for an extra 80,000-120,000 deaths,” Başer said, claiming that Turkey’s actual coronavirus death toll is around 80,000.

As of Jan. 11, the coronavirus death toll in Turkey stood at 22,981, according to data from the country’s health ministry.

Başer explained that in other countries two-thirds of the additional deaths are directly linked to COVID-19, while one-third are indirectly linked to it due to the deaths of people who suffer from other diseases but whose treatments were disrupted due to the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Turkish government has been accused of managing it poorly and without any transparency.

The daily coronavirus death toll numbers are disputed by opposition mayors who have access to the number of people who died of the coronavirus in their own cities every day. In some instances, coronavirus deaths are recorded as having been caused by a “contagious disease.” İstanbul’s opposition Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu recently had to ask the health minister if there was a contagious disease in Turkey other than COVID-19 because some death certificates of coronavirus victims report the cause of death as a contagious disease.

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