Turkey Quarantines Muslim Pilgrims Returning from Saudi Arabia

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AP/Amr Nabil

Istanbul (AFP) — Turkey on Sunday quarantined thousands of pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia, officials said, after recording one more coronavirus case bringing the total number to six.

“All the passengers returning from pilgrimage as of last night (Saturday) are being placed into separate rooms for quarantine” in student dorms in the capital Ankara and nearby Konya provinces, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced on Sunday.

Approximately 10,000 pilgrims returned from Saudi Arabia on Saturday night, youth and sports minister Mehmet Kasapoglu was quoted as saying by the official Anadolu news agency.

Koca said the number of confirmed cases in Turkey reached six after one of the pilgrims who returned from visiting the holy sites in Saudi Arabia over the last one week tested positive.

“Those found suspicious are hospitalised as soon as they return and tested,” he said.

Turkey’s religious affairs authority, Diyanet, said the travels for pilgrimage have been halted from February 27.

As part of its bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, Turkey has applied travel restrictions on a total of 15 countries including France, Italy and Germany.

Ankara has already ordered schools to close for two weeks from Monday and universities to take a three-week holiday, as well as imposing restrictions on civil servants’ foreign travel.

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