Turkey has confirmed its first coronavirus case, a man who had recently returned from Europe, according to the country’s health minister.
“The test of a patient suspected of carrying the coronavirus returned positive,” Fahrettin Koca announced in a televised statement early on Wednesday, adding that the man’s “general condition is good”.
“All of his family members and those who came into contact with him are under surveillance,” Koca said.
The minister said the Turkish citizen was likely to have contracted COVID-19 – the disease caused by the new coronavirus – while travelling in Europe, but declined to say which country or where in Turkey the patient was hospitalised.
He also called on Turkish citizens to avoid travelling abroad if possible, or self-quarantine for 14 days when they come back.
Turkey has a population of 80 million and shares a border with Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Iraq and Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East.
Last year, it was visited by 51.7 million people, according to the Turkish statistical agency.
Istanbul, the country’s tourism and financial hub, was the ninth-most visited city in the world, according to Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2019.
Turkey had announced several measures in recent weeks to try and stop the virus from reaching the country, including thermal cameras at airports, cancelling flights to affected countries and closing its border with Iran, which has confirmed more than 8,000 cases and nearly 300 deaths.
Hospitals in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara, have been set up to test and quarantine patients suspected of having the virus, which was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
Since then, more than 4,000 people have died globally from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization, with more than 113,000 infections confirmed in some 110 countries
About 64,000 people worldwide have recovered from the illness, according to John Hopkins University.