Turkey started to screen travelers from Iran amid outbreak

Turkey started to screen travelers from Iran amid outbreak

Turkey started to screen travelers from Iran amid outbreak

AA Photo

Turkey has started to screen travelers arriving from Iran at border gates and is refusing entry to anyone with signs of illness after four people died from the new virus that emerged in China, along with 750 suspected cases.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Feb. 21 said that Turkey is subjecting all arrivals from Iran to medical checks. He also said that Iranians who have traveled to Qom in the past 14 days will be refused entry.

Koca also said that he held a phone conversation with Iranian Health Minister Said Namaki.

Earlier this month, Turkey sent an A400M-type military cargo planet to Wuhan – the epicenter of the virus – and evacuated a total of 42 people, including 32 Turkish nationals, six Azerbaijanis, three Georgians, and an Albanian.

There is currently no known case of coronavirus in Turkey.

Iranian health authorities on Feb. 21 reported two more deaths from the coronavirus and said the fatalities were from among 13 new confirmed cases of the virus in Iran.

The report by the semiofficial Mehr news agency came as Iranians voted in nationwide parliamentary elections.

After authorities reported two earlier deaths this week, the death toll from COVID-19, the illness caused by virus, stands at four in Iran.

So far, 18 cases have been confirmed in Iran, including the four who died.

Lebanon also confirmed its first coronavirus case on Feb. 21 and said it was monitoring two other potential cases after a 45-year-old woman arriving from Iran on Feb. 20 tested positive, Health Minister Hamad Hassan said.

Addressing a news conference, Hassan said the patient was taken directly to isolation from a plane arriving from the Iranian city of Qom on Feb. 20 after exhibiting symptoms of the virus.

The patient is being quarantined at Rafik Hariri University Hospital in Beirut and two other individuals from the Qom flight and suspected of carrying the virus would be transferred to the hospital for quarantine as well, Hassan said.

The new virus emerged in China in December. Since then, more than 76,000 people have been infected globally, in as many as 27 countries, with more than 2,200 deaths being reported, mostly in China.

China's count of new virus cases drops, deaths exceed 2,200
Chinas count of new virus cases drops, deaths exceed 2,200

The new virus comes from a large family of coronaviruses, some causing nothing worse than a cold. It causes cold- and flu-like symptoms, including cough and fever, and in more severe cases, shortness of breath. It can worsen to pneumonia, which can be fatal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently named the illness it causes COVID-19, referring to both coronavirus and its origin late last year.

There have been few virus cases in the Middle East so far. Nine cases have been confirmed in the United Arab Emirates, which is a popular tourist destination, and one case in Egypt. Of the nine in the UAE, seven are Chinese nationals, one is a Filipino and another an Indian national.

Iran's neighbor Iraq, which has reported no cases of the virus, took measures to contain it by suspending visas on arrival for Iranian passport holders and direct flights between the two countries.

Also on Feb. 21, one of 11 Israelis who were flown home after being quarantined on a cruise ship in Japan has tested positive for the virus, the first case to be reported inside Israel, the Health Ministry.

The Israeli cruise ship passengers, who had all initially tested negative, arrived on a charter plane overnight. They were met by medics in protection suits and immediately taken to the Sheba Hospital near Tel Aviv, where they will be kept in quarantine.

Another four Israelis were hospitalized in Japan after testing positive for the virus. Israel has cancelled all flights to and from China, and is requiring Israelis returning from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore or Thailand to be quarantined at home for two weeks.