Coronavirus: Turkey quarantines thousands of Muslims returning from Saudi pilgrimage

Thousands of Muslims returning to Turkey from a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia were being taken into quarantine on Sunday due to concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, Turkish officials said.

Television pictures showed buses transporting pilgrims along the highway from Ankara’s airport to the city as part of an operation to place those returning into student dormitories.

Turkey, which has only diagnosed six cases of coronavirus, has ramped up measures to halt its spread in recent days, closing schools and universities, holding sports events without spectators and halting flights to many countries.

On Wednesday it became the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the World Health Organization (WHO) described as “vigilant” measures to delay it.

The latest move came after Health Minister Fahrettin Koca called overnight for those returning from the Umrah pilgrimage to quarantine themselves for a fortnight, saying a returnee in the last week had become the sixth person to test positive.

He then announced on Sunday that the state was actively quarantining the returnees.

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