Turkey sets out new criteria for COVID-19 tests
Meltem Özgenç - ANKARA
Initially, the Health Ministry was conducting COVID-19 tests on people who had fever, dry cough and respiratory difficulties, which are considered to be the most common symptoms of the disease.
Nevertheless, recently many started to show symptoms such as headache, muscle pain and the loss of smell and taste. As cases were detected without showing any common symptoms, the ministry upgraded its criteria for tests.
With the new criteria, patients who show at least one of the symptoms, throat, head or muscle aches, loss of smell of taste and diarrhea, they will be subjected to COVID-19 tests.
Tests will still be carried out on people who have fever, consistent dry cough and respiratory difficulties.
“The ministry regularly updated its case definition [for COVID-19]. There are major works being carried out on this matter. In the scope of these works, tests will be carried out and groups will be detected. Of course, everything depends on the data,” said Professor Recep Öztürk, a member of the Science Board established for the virus outbreak.
“Right now, works are ongoing for the test algorithms. The ministry has an immense testing capacity. As the number of patients drops, tests will continue on risky areas,” Öztürk said.
Meanwhile, Professor Mehmet Ceyhan, the head of the Infectious Diseases Association, noted that when the pandemic erupted some 70 percent of the patients had fever and cough.
“This figure dropped to 20 percent for fever,” Ceyhan said, adding that the ministry’s new criteria is in accordance with the cases’ symptoms.
Ceyhan also suggested that heartaches and changes in skin color can also be added to the new criteria list.
Ceyhan also added that in two days, the ministry conducted over 50,000 tests. Out of this figure, 30,000 were people who referred to health institutions due to showing symptoms and people who had contact with the possible COVID-19 cases.
The remaining 20,000 were conducted for scanning purposes, Ceyhan conveyed.
“The individuals tested for the virus in the latter group included wealth workers, barbers, drivers and members of the flight crews,” he said.
Ceyhan estimated that there are some 300,000 people in Turkey, who are not even aware that they have the virus. “In Istanbul, one out of 100 people is believed to have COVID-19,” he said.