Turkey to expand testing to locate “ghost carriers”

Turkey’s new cases declined from 5K to 2K in the brief span of one month, which the Ministry of Health attributed to its outstanding contact tracing and advanced drug therapy regimens, which shortened patients’ hospitalization time. While Turkey’s health system and professionals did and continue to battle heroically with the Covid-19 outbreak, part of the decline is caused by “passive testing”. That is testing only those who visit health facilities with complaints and then tracing their contacts.  After repeated warnings from leading health experts, the Ministry finally recognized the presence of “ghost carriers” or patients with no symptoms, who go around unknowingly spreading the disease. As the Cabinet prepares to being easing corona restrictions, it has become more cognizant of the “second wave” theory and will now start random population testing to hunt down asymptomatic patients.  

According to Anatolian News Agency, Turkey will conduct tests to trace “ghost spreaders,” who have the coronavirus but do not show any symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, according to Professor Ateş Kara, a member of the country’s Science Board.

“Data suggest that some 30 percent of the coronavirus cases in the countries around the world are those “ghost spreaders,” which mean asymptomatic virus carriers. If we do have 122,000 cases in Turkey, then there might be some 36,000 out there who carry the virus or have the disease without showing any symptoms,” Kara said.

He noted that Iceland tested everyone in the country and found that around a third of the population had the disease with no symptoms.

“A later study from China and data from other countries show similar results, which allow us to make some estimates about Turkey,” Kara explained.

“That is why we urge everybody to wear face masks but putting on a mask is no substitute for social distancing.”

Kara noted that it would be impossible to track all those ghost spreaders, but newly developed tests produce more accurate results.

“We cannot carry out the tests on the entire populations, however, we try to find those ghost spreaders by run tests on certain sample groups. From now on, tests will be conducted in crowded workplaces,” he said.

Turkey uses what it calls the “filiation” method to screen the chain of contacts in infectious diseases. If somebody tests positive, close contacts are also tested. There are more than 4,000 filiation teams tracing people that may have contracted the virus.

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