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10 Mar 2020 | 10:11 PM UTC

Turkey: First case of coronavirus confirmed March 11 /update 4

Turkey’s Health Minister confirms first coronavirus (COVID-19) case on March 11; entry bans for China, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Italy remain in place

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Event

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca confirmed the first case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country on Wednesday, March 11. According to authorities, the individual is a Turkish national who had traveled from Europe. The patient is currently isolated in hospital and his family members are under observation. To prevent further spread of the virus, the government has also advised Turkish nationals against traveling abroad.

Meanwhile, an ongoing entry ban for foreigners who have visited China, South Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Italy within the last 14 days remains in place as of Tuesday, March 3. All passenger flights to and from these countries have also been canceled. In addition, Turkey's border with Iran remains closed since Saturday, February 29.

Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.

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

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate business disruptions, 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.

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.