China, the country that was ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic, dropped to the eighth rank on Sunday after Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the official number of cases in his country had reached 86,306.
Turkey as of Sunday has the seventh-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, overtaking countries heavily hit by the novel coronavirus early after its discovery, according to Worldometers data.
Turkey presently has the highest number of infections in Asia, surpassing China, which follows Turkey with 82,735 cases.
A day earlier, Turkey passed Iran, one of the first countries after China to feel the disastrous effects of COVID-19. Tehran’s weak initial response to the coronavirus spread soon made international headlines when the rapidly increasing infection rate and death toll quickly overwhelmed public health services.
The data from Worldometers, a website that provides real-time statistics on various issues, shows that Turkey’s infection rate, for some time, was far steeper than the other two highly impacted countries.
China’s first reported case was Nov. 17, while Iran’s was Feb. 19. Turkey’s first reported case was on March 11, taking the country only 39 days to overtake the two COVID-19 hotspots.
Turkey is faring slightly better in coronavirus-related deaths, ranking 12th as of Sunday.
Turkey’s infection rate has reportedly dropped by over a third, from 15 percent to 9 percent in the past week, according to state-run Anadolu news agency, although many medical professionals have challenged the Health Ministry’s official figures, saying that the true number of cases and deaths are far higher than reported.
Further suspicion was raised after observers noticed the Turkish government’s tallies between COVID-19 deaths and the total numbers of cases have increased at a constant fixed rate for at least 10 days.