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Turkey halts, Uzbekistan, Russia reduce passenger flights to and from S. Korea due to coronavirus

All News 09:52 March 01, 2020

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- Turkey has suspended passenger flights to and from South Korea following the novel coronavirus outbreak, while Uzbekistan and Russia have drastically reduced its flights to and from Seoul.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced Saturday that the measure would be effective at 12 a.m. Sunday. Turkey also suspended flights to and from Italy and Iraq.

Turkey said it would make exceptions for cases when these countries send chartered airplanes to evacuate their nationals out of Turkey. Cargo flights from the three nations will continue to operate normally.

This EPA photo from Feb. 25, 2020, shows a Turkish Airlines plane. (Yonhap)

Turkey's decision left 47 South Koreans stranded at Istanbul Airport in the early hours of Sunday morning. They had been scheduled to board a 2:20 a.m. Turkish Airlines flight bound for Seoul.

An official with the South Korean Consulate General in Istanbul said Turkish Airlines promised to get the stranded South Koreans home safely.

Elsewhere, Uzbekistan said Saturday it will cut the number of passenger flights to and from South Korea from 13 per week to one, beginning Sunday. Korean Air, Asiana Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways operate those 13 flights. The South Korean Embassy in Uzbekistan said the three companies will later decide which of the three carriers will handle the lone remaining flight.

The embassy added it's been informed by the Uzbekistan government that all travelers arriving in Uzbekistan via South Korea will be quarantined at a facility near Tashkent for 14 days.

Russia has also decided to limit air service to and from South Korea due to the spread of COVID-19. Starting Sunday, only Aeroflot and Korean Air will operate flights between the two countries. Russian carriers S7, Aurora and Yakutia airlines had also operated flights on the Korea-Russia route.

As of 5 a.m. Sunday, 78 countries and provinces are imposing entry restrictions and stricter quarantine procedures for travelers from South Korea.

The foreign ministry in Seoul said Angola has joined the list of 35 countries barring the entry of South Koreans and others who have recently visited South Korea.

Nigeria will also require a 14-day isolation for travelers arriving from South Korea, joining 41 countries, nine Chinese provinces, and the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Tianjin.

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