Turkish citizens back from Iran test negative for COVID-19

A group of Turkish nationals who returned from Iran late last month have all tested negative for coronavirus after completing their quarantine, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday.

Sixty-five of the passengers who had to undergo an additional quarantine tested negative for the disease and have all been discharged from hospital in the capital Ankara, said a ministry statement.

Last month Turkey closed its border gates with Iran and cancelled all flights to Iran.

The negative tests confirm Turkey’s status as having no cases to date of the deadly virus.

On Feb. 25, upon their arrival, all 132 of the Turkish Airlines passengers and 10 crew members were taken to a hospital for observation.

Those who had never been to Iran’s pilgrimage sites of Mashhad or Qom ­– cities with large numbers of cases – were discharged on March 2, after testing negative for coronavirus, said the ministry, while the remainder stayed in hospital to see if they had the deadly virus.

The global death toll from coronavirus is over 4,000 with more than 114,000 confirmed cases in at least 100 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The death toll includes 3,136 in China, where the outbreak first emerged last December, as well as 463 in Italy, 237 in Iran, 54 in South Korea, and 27 in the U.S.

In addition, more than 64,000 people have been discharged from hospitals after recovering from the virus.

As part of efforts to contain the outbreak, governments have closed borders and suspended land and air travel with the worst-hit countries, including China, Italy, and Iran.

In a press briefing yesterday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom said that since the virus has a foothold "in so many countries, the threat of pandemic has become very real."

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