Turkish Airlines flight diverted over suspected Coronavirus case

Turkish Airlines flight TK879 from Tehran (Iran) to Istanbul (Turkey), was diverted to the country’s capital Ankara on February 25, 2020. Reportedly, the diversion was due to a suspicion that there might have been a novel coronavirus (Covid-19)-infected passenger onboard. 

Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-300 took off to operate the flight TK879 from Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) in Tehran, Iran. Instead of landing in Istanbul as originally planned, it diverted and landed at Ankara Esenboğa Havalimanı Int’l (ESB) airport in Turkey. 

Reportedly, the Turkish Health Ministry requested to divert the flight, because one passenger on board was suspected of being infected by the coronavirus (Covid-19). The 132 passengers on board were taken in for preliminary health exams by the Ankara Health Directorate and Health Ministry officials.

On February 23, 2020, Turkey has announced closing its land borders and railway service with Iran. Passengers who have been in China or the city of Qom (Iran) in the last fourteen days are not allowed to enter Turkey, except for Turkish citizens. Turkish Airlines has cancelled all flights to or from Iran, excluding flights to/from Tehran, until March 10, 2020. 

The first confirmed death from the virus in the Middle East was reported  in Qom on February 19, 2020. As of February 24, 2020, There are 79,331 coronavirus confirmed cases globally, of which 77,262 were detected in China, as confirmed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Outside of China, 2,069 virus cases and 23 deaths were found across 29 countries. In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, Iran remains the most affected country (43 confirmed cases), followed by the United Arab Emirates (13 confirmed cases), as well as Kuwait, Egypt, and Lebanon (one case in each), WHO indicates.

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