Turkish plane leaves China with evacuees
A cargo plane with 42 passengers departed from China's Wuhan city for Turkey after evacuating Turkish citizens from the heart of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Feb. 1.
The plane, en route to Turkey, landed in Mongolia's capital to refuel and took off after around two-hours replenishing.
The Turkish Armed Forces' A400M type cargo plane departed from Wuhan on Feb. 1 airlifting 42 people, also including the citizens of Azerbaijan, Albania, and Georgia.
Passengers' health conditions are good and their oxygen levels, as well as body temperature, are normal, the officials told an Anadolu Agency reporter on board.
With eleven military personnel, six health employees, two press members and a Foreign Ministry representative on board, the plane landed in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia's capital at 3 p.m. local time (0700GMT), to replenish its fuel storage.
During the refueling, the passengers went through medical examinations.
The plane is expected to arrive in Turkey at around 7 p.m. local time (1600GMT).
The plane also delivered medical equipment -- dispatched by Turkey's state-run aid and development agency (TIKA) and Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) -- to China.
The evacuees were initially screened by Turkish health experts using a team of six experts assigned to run blood tests and scan the health conditions to eliminate the potential risk in Turkey.
If any of the passengers show any symptom during the flight they will be taken to a special section area inside the plane.
A total of six out of 48 people decided not to return to Turkey with their own consent, the country's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a tweet on Feb. 1.
During the health checks, no symptoms were observed in any passenger, Koca underlined.
Koca said no sign of any medical problem in 42 passengers evacuated from Wuhan is found.
After landing, passengers on board will be transferred to Zekai Tahir Burak Hospital in Ankara, he added.
Once in Turkey, all aboard will be transferred to a hospital in Ankara where they will be in quarantine for 14 days in line with the virus’s incubation period.
All evacuees were informed about the process in Turkey.
No cases of coronavirus have been found so far in Turkey, the minister reiterated.
Turkish citizens were happy about being inside the plane and some expressed gratitude to Turkey.
"Our Foreign Ministry and Embassy in China spent too much effort to take us back to our country, we had very difficult times here, we felt desperate. I am very happy about being here at this moment," a Turkish passenger told Anadolu Agency.
The plane also delivered medical equipment -- dispatched by Turkey’s state-run aid and development agency (TIKA) and Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) -- to China.
Since December, the virus has sickened thousands, mostly in China. Symptoms include fever, cough and in more severe cases shortness of breath or pneumonia.
The coronavirus killed at least 259 people in China, with nearly 12,000 infected. More than 118,000 people are under medical observation.
Since its outbreak late last year, China has put Wuhan under lockdown in a bid to contain the virus and is building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat those affected.
Beyond China, the virus has spread to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Vietnam, and Canada.
Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide. Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.