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Turkey quarantines eastern village after discovery of COVID-19 variant

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The Turkish government imposed a temporary quarantine on a village in the southeastern province of Muş after detecting a case of new and potentially more contagious COVID-19 variant, local media reported on Wednesday.

According to a statement from the Hasköy district governor’s office, the quarantine in the village of Yukarıüçdam will last 14 days, in line with a decision from the district’s health directorate.

Although Turkey temporarily halted flights from several countries including the United Kingdom on Dec. 20 in an effort to prevent the new strain of the coronavirus from spreading to the country, the first cases of the COVID-19 variant were detected in travelers from the UK on Jan. 1.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said in a statement following the discovery of 15 variant cases that entries from the UK were temporarily suspended and that the travelers were isolated, as were those with whom they had been in contact.

“No other cases of the COVID-19 variant have been detected in nationwide regular screenings. The situation is under control,” Koca reassured citizens.

Turkey, which is among the hardest-hit countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic, reported 9,809 new cases and 171 deaths over the past 24 hours on Tuesday. The country’s total coronavirus death toll currently stands at 23.152.

Last month Turkey was reporting around 30,000 new infections daily, but the number of infections has been on a downward trend for several weeks due to weekend lockdowns and nighttime curfews re-introduced by the authorities amid a spike in infections and deaths in December.

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