Turkish and Chinese authorities are working on a coordinated management process to provide a secure departure for Turkish citizens who want to leave coronavirus-hit Wuhan city, Turkish diplomatic sources told Daily Sabah, adding that about 25 Turkish citizens are currently in the Chinese metropolis of 11 million, where the virus is believed to have originated.
On Tuesday, the Chinese government confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the coronavirus and 106 deaths. Most deaths occurred in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic began last month.
The sources noted that Turkish diplomatic staff in China joined chat groups on the country's most popular messaging application, WeChat, to communicate with Turkish citizens and inform them of developments. "The evacuation process continues in coordination with Chinese authorities," added the sources.
The Chinese government has taken many measures to halt the spread of the virus, including banning public transports in specific cities. Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday that the authorities also prolonged the closure of educational institutions and announced that the spring semester would be postponed until further notice.
Many countries have issued travel warnings to China. In a statement Monday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry "highly recommended that our citizens do not travel to China unless it is necessary, and if they travel there, they should stay away from the regions where the cases are seen, especially in Hubei province."
South Korean officials said Tuesday that the country plans to send chartered planes to China on Thursday and Friday to pick up about 700 South Koreans who wish to return home from Wuhan. The first plane to repatriate French nationals from Wuhan will likely bring them back to Paris on Thursday, French officials announced.
The new strain of the coronavirus has raised global concern due to its similarity to SARS, which killed more than 600 people in China and Hong Kong in 2002 and 2003. However, the head of China's disease control agency said Sunday that the virus is not as powerful as severe acute respiratory syndrome, although officials warn that the virus could be spreading faster than before.
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