First batch of Turkish citizens from Europe arrive home
The first plane carrying 108 Turkish citizens from Munich, Germany, arrived in Istanbul on March 17after Turkey imposed a travel ban
last week to nine European countries amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey banned entry from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
An expedition was launched for the return of Turkish citizens in these countries who were there for business, visiting family or education.
The first plane landed in Istanbul after departing from Munich at 10.05 a.m. local time (0905GMT), carrying 108 passengers, two of whom were infants.
The plane's landing strip at Istanbul Airport was cordoned off from normal entry, with health teams in special protective gear standing by upon their arrival.
In addition, police and gendarmerie teams took security measures around the zone.
After health checks, the passengers will be taken to a student dormitory set aside as a quarantine facility in Istanbul.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on March 17 that some 3,614 Turks from nine European countries will return to Turkey until midnight. The returnees will be quarantined subsequently.
Speaking during a news conference, Çavuşoğlu said that 3,614 Turkish citizens will be brought to Turkey with a total of 34 planned flights until March 17 midnight.
He also underlined that the returnees will be quarantined for 14 days at student dorms in metropolis Istanbul and northwestern Kocaeli province.
Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) will be addressing their needs during the quarantine, Çavuşoğlu added.
Three more additional flights have been planned for citizens coming from the U.K., he added.
“As of [March 16] evening, flights have been halted for six more countries,” Çavuşoğlu said.
The minister also said that Morocco has announced its flight ban, but some 1,500 Turkish citizens are currently in the North African country.
“We are carrying out the necessary works for our citizens,” he said.
23 countries requested equipment aid
Çavuşoğlu said that 23 countries have requested aid for coronavirus equipment and Turkey has sent help to some countries.
“We are cooperating with the Health Ministry for the worst-case scenario,” he said.
“It is important to determine our needs, in the worst case, and support [other countries]. Our own needs are important,” he added.
On March 11, Turkey became the last major economy to report a case of the coronavirus.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced 29 newly confirmed cases late on March 16, bringing the total to 47.
No deaths have been reported.
The Turkish government has been implementing strict measures since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, from flight bans to schools temporarily closing.