Turkey confirms 18th coronavirus case

Turkey confirms 18th coronavirus case

Turkey confirms 18th coronavirus case

Alamy Photo

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in over 80 million strong Turkey has reached 18, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on March 15.

Koca said on Twitter that 12 more people have been diagnosed with the virus, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 18.

Koca also disclosed where some of the patients had originated from. He said two of the new cases were related to the first case reported in the country, seven had traveled from Europe and three from the United States.

"Every detected case and every isolation is a security measure for all of us," he noted.

On March 11, Turkey became the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the World Health Organization (WHO) described as "vigilant" measures to delay it.

Since then, the government has ramped up measures to halt the spread of the virus, closing schools and universities, holding sports events without spectators and halting flights to many countries.

Turks returning from abroad to be placed under quarantine

Turkish nationals, including students studying in Europe and tourists whose visas are about to expire in European countries Turkey has imposed travel bans on, will be returning to Turkey until 00:00 March 17 on special flights with the obligation to be placed under quarantine.

The ambassadors of Turkey in Germany and France stated that the Turkish nationals who want to return to the country will depart on March 17.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Germany Ali Kemal Aydın said “several thousand Turks will be sent to Turkey by plane on March 17. The number of people to return and evacuate will not exceed several thousand people in Germany, he said, noting the total number would be certain until late March 16.

Turkey’s Ambassador to France İsmail Hakkı Musa said they had calls from some 300 Turkish nationals to return to Turkey. “They will be taken under control in Turkey. There is a mandatory quarantine period,” he told private broadcaster NTV.

On March 13, Turkey added nine more European countries, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, to its list of countries it will not allow flights to.

Turkey also imposed a flight ban on China, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Mongolia.


Mass prayers in mosques suspended

Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were being taken into quarantine on March 15 due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

Television pictures showed buses transporting pilgrims along the highway from Ankara's airport to the city as part of an operation to place those returning into student dormitories.

The head of Turkey's religious directorate, Ali Erbaş said on March 16 that Turkey suspended mass prayers in mosques due to coronavirus fears.

Erbaş added that mosques would remain open for those who want to pray individually.

"In this process, it is sufficient to do the noonday prayer instead of the Friday prayer," he said.

Erbaş emphasized that all members of the Turkish public who went on the Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in a government-organized tour have returned to Turkey.

He added that 390 Turkish citizens who travel to Saudi Arabia on private tours will return today and be quarantined.

Erbaş on March 14 said that that the last 5,300 Turkish pilgrims were in the process of returning to Turkey, but at the time he said the pilgrims should self-isolate at home for two weeks.

A day earlier he said that 21,000 pilgrims were to return from Saudi Arabia by March 15, but it was not clear whether they were all to go into quarantine.

The youth and sports ministry said the pilgrims were to be kept under observation for 14 days in five student dormitories - in the capital Ankara and the central Turkish city of Konya - with a capacity of 10,330 people.

It said the three-week closure of universities in Turkey, announced last week, meant that the dormitories were mostly empty and that the remaining students had been transferred to other dormitories.

Bars, nightclubs closed

Bars and nightclubs will also be closed from March 16 in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Turkish Interior Ministry said on March 15.

It said the temporary ban will go into effect at 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on March 16. The ministry did not say how long the ban would last.

Court hearings delayed

Separately, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül said on March 16 that all non-emergency court hearings will be delayed.

Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül on March 16 told reporters that there are no coronavirus cases in prisons. “Within the scope of probation, all the activities of the convicts have been terminated,” Gül said.

He stated that judges and prosecutors over the age of 60 will be considered to be on administrative leave under the coronavirus measures.

All public libraries run by the Culture and Tourism Ministry in Turkey closed on March 16, to be closed until March 30, as part of measures against the outbreak.