Coronavirus: Turkey evacuates 42 from China

A total of 42 people, including 32 Turkish and 10 Azerbaijani, Albanian and Georgian nationals, have been evacuated from China’s Wuhan province, the center of a deadly coronavirus outbreak, Turkey’s health minister announced on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters in the capital Ankara, Minister Fahrettin Koca said none of the evacuees have shown disease symptoms and the sample tests on them would be released on Monday.

A military cargo plane carrying the 42 people reportedly landed in Ankara late on Saturday.

All the passengers, together with the crew, will be under quarantine in a hospital for 14 days — the incubation period of the virus.

The evacuees’ levels of oxygen and body temperature were normal, the state-run news agency Anadolu (AA) quoted some healthcare professionals as saying on Sunday.

So far more than 25 countries have confirmed the spread of the virus which was first detected in Wuhan in December.

According to the latest figures revealed by the Chinese authorities, the coronavirus outbreak has killed at least 305 people and infected more than 14,300 globally.

The first report of death attributable to the virus outside of mainland China came on Sunday from the Philippines.

Turkey is not the only country that has sent planes to evacuate its citizens from the infection zone. Some countries have also imposed travel bans or restrictions on China as a precautionary measure.

In an attempt to contain the virus, China has put some cities under lockdown under which nearly 60 million people are currently living.

However, the Chinese measures against the disease have been taken relatively late, according to Gozde Celik, a Turkish citizen living in China’s capital, Beijing.

“There has been a state of alert in Wuhan for some time, while it is new outside [the city]. [People] on the streets here [in Beijing] have only been using masks for the last one week,” Celik told Politikyol website.

During the first few days after the official announcements advising people to stay at home, the streets were almost empty. However, this was not the case anymore, according to Celik.

Researchers around the world are reportedly working on vaccine-making studies to halt the spread of the disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on governments to prepare for “domestic outbreak control” in case of spreads in their countries.

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