ISTANBUL, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Turkey identified 1,693 new symptomatic cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, data from the Health Ministry showed on Thursday, as Ankara continues to only report the number of those who show symptoms.
The total number of patients increased to 324,143 as of Thursday, while the death toll increased by 66 to 9,080.
An interview in the Hurriyet daily over the weekend with Health Minister Fahrettin Koca led to speculation that Ankara may start announcing the number of all those who test positive for the novel coronavirus.
A clarification issued by the columnist on Monday explained that Koca's comments that Ankara would share all positive cases referred only to cross-sectional studies that are conducted.
Koca said last month that Turkey had only been reporting symptomatic coronavirus cases, after doctors and politicians had expressed concern that cases in the country were underreported for months.
After Koca's announcement, the WHO called for the reporting of COVID-19 data in line with WHO guidelines in order to harmonise data collection and response measures.
Turkey had been isolating all positive cases regardless of symptoms, the WHO said.
Turkey's top medical association and the main opposition party criticised the government's decision to only disclose the number of symptomatic patients.
President Tayyip Erdogan urged Turkey's parliament on Wednesday to legislate to curb the influence of medical associations and other institutions that have criticised his government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
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