Turkey confirms sixth coronavirus case, halts flights with nine European countries
Turkey said on March 13 it was halting flights to and from nine European countries including Germany and France until April 17 as it ramped up measures to halt the spread of coronavirus and reported three more cases, bringing the total to six.
"Unfortunately, the coronavirus test of a citizen who returned from Umrah in the last week turned out to be positive," said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Twitter.
Umrah is the Islamic pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca that Muslims can undertake at any time of the year.
Stressing the importance of a 14-day quarantine rule, Koca warned those who came from overseas not to come in contact others.
He said passing medical screening does not mean zero risk.
Koca also reminded that Turkish citizens who visit foreign countries will have to take 14 days off from work and spend the time in self-isolation as of March 16.
Pregnant women and women on breastfeeding leave, people with disabilities and older than 60, except managers, will be allowed 12 days off from work and spend the time in self-isolation as of March 16, Koca added.
Transport Minister Cahit Turhan said Turkey is halting flights to and from Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands as of March 14 morning until April 17.
He said the suspension of flights to and from nine countries would take effect from 0500 GMT on March 14.
The countries are Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands. Turhan said the list could be updated, depending on developments.
Turkey has already suspended flights to and from Italy, China, South Korea, Iran and Iraq.
In the meantime, an authorization letter signed by Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that Turkey will close all border
gates to passengers coming from nine European countries.
It also said that travelers from Turkey to those countries are temporarily suspended.
Turkish Airlines chief Bilal Ekşi said the company would provide passengers with tickets to the nine countries with "the best form of refund and ticket change terms" in light of the measures.
On March 12, Turkey moved to close schools for one week and universities for three weeks from March 16, while also ruling that sports events be held without spectators until the end of April to help contain the spread of the virus.