No confirmed coronavirus case so far in Turkey: Minister
A security official stands at the entrance of Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital where 17 passengers of a Turkish Airlines flight from Tehran, suspected of having coronavirus, are to be quarantined, in Ankara, Turkey, on Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo)
Turkey has yet to see any confirmed case of the coronavirus, but that does not mean there will never be any, said the country’s top health official on Feb. 26, a day after a plane carrying 132 Turkish passengers flying from Tehran landed in Ankara, all of whom are being kept under quarantine.
“So far no evidence of any coronavirus cases in Turkey. This does not mean that it will not be encountered. After all, there is a virus that is spreading to the world. Even more important than this spread is that our border neighbor, Iran, is facing a very serious epidemic,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told state-run Anadolu Agency.
About the flights bringing back Turkish nationals from Iran, Koca said: “We can easily say that none of our passengers’ results are positive [for coronavirus], they are all negative.”
Some 132 Turkish citizens arrived in Ankara on Feb. 25 after being evacuated from Iran, where 19 deaths from the coronavirus have been confirmed.
Koca said that Turkish passengers coming to Turkey from the Iranian cities of Mashhad and Qom, where the majority of the cases in Iran has been in, are in quarantine to prevent the coronavirus from spreading inside the country.
Turkey prevented a total of 28 Iranians, who showed symptoms of the virus and had been in Qom, from entering the country, he added.
“Our main aim is to prevent the spread of the disease in Turkey,” he said.
“The epicenter of the virus is China. But now new sources have emerged, such as Iran,” he said, adding that Turkey has set up field hospitals at its border with Iran.
Iranian citizens are not being allowed to enter Turkey, Koca said, adding that eight Chinese citizens who arrived in Turkey via other countries are also being held under quarantine.
“We took them in observation after consulting with the [Chinese] embassy,” said the minister.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning on Feb. 26, advising the country’s citizens to avoid traveling to areas of Iraq and Italy hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
Trade Minister also said that Turkey has taken all kinds of measures against the coronavirus.
When asked about the entrances from Nakhchivan through Dilucu customs gate, Ruhsar Pekcan said by no means entry to Turkey is allowed.
"All necessary precautions have been taken and custom teams have been equipped with clothes and masks," she added.
Iran has reported 95 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far, and Turkey has closed its border gates, stopped railways crossings, and suspended most flight services, except flights carrying Turkish passengers returning from Tehran.
The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has sounded global alarms, with China reporting 2,700 deaths from the outbreak and health experts grappling to find a cure.
Outside mainland China, the coronavirus has spread to more than 30 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.