World tracks virus spread via the internet, in Turkey they wait for a minister

A lawyer and board member of anti-corruption organisation Transparency International has called on the Turkish government to follow other countries’ lead and provide comprehensive and up-to-date information on the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the government recorded Turkey’s first known COVID-19 diagnosis on March 11, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has kept the country updated on the virus’s spread in nightly televised briefings where he discloses the number of new diagnoses and deaths.

But this method lacks transparency and lags far behind other countries communications on the outbreak, lawyer Oya Özarslan said in a series of tweets.

Özarslan pointed to the systems used by countries like South Korea, where an updated map of the country with comprehensive information on the total number of cases in each province is available on the Health Ministry’s website.

No such system has been implemented in Turkey, where the most up-to-date information is communicated on Koca’s Twitter account and the datasets used are unclear and change each day, Özarslan said.

And, in stark contrast to the comprehensive maps, infographics and tables offered by South Korea, Britain, Mexico and other countries the lawyer cited, Turkey has taken legal action against journalists for reporting on the virus.