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Coronavirus: Turkey detects 29 more cases of novel virus, total rises to 47

New cases are in some way related to the United States, Middle East and Europe, country's health minister says
Turkey has shut down schools, universities, bars, and nightclubs, as well as cinemas, cafes, Turkish baths, and amusement parks to help stop the spread of the disease (Reuters)

The number of coronavirus cases in Turkey rose to 47 on Monday, with 29 new cases confirmed, the country's health minister said.

"All recent 29 cases are directly or indirectly related to the United States, Middle East and Europe, while 3 cases have arrived from Umrah," Turkey's Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

"Contact with foreign countries will remain a risk," he warned.

The increase is the largest the country has witnessed and comes after Ankara administered a myriad of measures aimed at curbing the potential of a huge and unmanageable outbreak.

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Earlier on Monday, the Turkish government banned flights from six countries - Egypt, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates - after it had already banned flights to and from nine European countries.

On the same day, Turkey's Ministry of Religious Affairs decided to cancel all congregational worship, including Friday prayers, until the threat from the disease passes.

Mosques would still be open to worshippers for individual prayer, but any form of congregational or collective prayer will not be allowed, it said.

Turkey has already shut down schools, universities, bars, nightclubs and dance venues, as well as cinemas, cafes, Turkish baths, amusement parks and swimming pools, to help stop the spread of the disease.

Istanbul's governor, who oversees a city with a population of 15 million people, said on Monday that citizens, including students who live in the countries that had recently been placed on a flight ban, had until 5pm to ask Turkish embassies for permission to return home.

"Those who make the requests will be returned to Turkey until Tuesday at midnight," Ali Yerlikaya said. "Citizens who arrive in Istanbul will be quarantined for 14 days in dormitories run by the government."

On Sunday, Turkey quarantined more than 10,000 pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

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