Massive quarantine in Turkey after travelling to Mecca

Ankara, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- Turkish has quarantined pilgrims returning from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for 14 days in student dormitories.

Turkish health minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Sunday that 10,330 people who returned from the Umrah pilgrimage had been taken into isolation on Saturday night in student accommodation in Ankara and the central Anatolian province Konya.

A pilgrim who previously returned from the Umrah had tested positive for coronavirus and been taken to hospital, the sixth case in the country.

Koca said health controls were carried out on those who had returned from Saudi Arabia and called for anyone who had come back from the Umrah pilgrimage to quarantine themselves for a fortnight.

He added that they had been put in students’ dormitories under quarantine conditions and placed in separate rooms.

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs, which also organizes the pilgrimage tours, said that travelling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah from Turkey was stopped on 27 February and that the recently returned group had gone on a 20 or 30-day tour that left before that date.

Yildirim Kaya, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told EFE on the phone that he had visited the dormitories in Ankara and listened to the complaints of the people there who said there were no doctors.

“’We will get sick here’ one of the relatives of the pilgrims told me,” Kaya said.

“But it was just the very early hours, I tried to calm them that all necessary measures would be taken shortly.”

Mehmet Kasapoglu, Turkey’s minister of youth and sports, who is responsible for the dormitories, said in a written statement that about 10,000 people were staying in the dormitories already and thanked the students for their sensitivity.

He added that at the end of the quarantine time the rooms would be returned the students in the most hygienic way.

China has been the most affected by the new coronavirus, after it emerged in Wuhan, the capital city of the central province of Hubei, in December.

The virus has spread around the world with more than 132,000 global cases in 123 countries and territories and deaths exceeding 5,000.

It has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. EFE-EPA


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