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01 Mar 2020 | 02:38 AM UTC

Turkey: Airlines to suspend flights to Iraq, Italy, and South Korea February 29 /update 2

Ministry of Health announces suspension of flights to Iraq, Italy, and South Korea on February 29, due to COVID-19; confirm travel itineraries

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Event

Minister of Health Dr Fahrettin Koca announced on Saturday, February 29, that all flights to and from Italy, Iraq, and South Korea have stopped as of the evening (local time) on Saturday, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The government had already suspended flights to and from China and Iran. Representatives of Turkish Airlines said that flights to and from Iran are canceled until Tuesday, March 10. Meanwhile, Turkey's border with Iran remains closed since Sunday, February 23. 

Turkish authorities have not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in the country as of Sunday, March 1. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term. 

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 28, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the risk of spread and the risk of impact of the virus is "very high" at the global level.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Potentially affected travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.

  • To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.