March 5, 2020 / 2:17 AM / 25 days ago

Singapore sends Turkish Airlines flight home empty after coronavirus case

SINGAPORE/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish Airlines aircraft was flown back to Istanbul without any passengers on board on Thursday on orders from authorities in Singapore after a passenger who had arrived on the same plane on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus.

The infected passenger was not Turkish and transited through Istanbul en route to Singapore from another location, a Turkish aviation official told Reuters, adding there were 143 passengers aboard the flight, as well as three pilots and 10 crew members.

Singapore’s aviation regulator said that the pilots and crew of flight TK54 that had arrived on Tuesday were on the return flight to Istanbul, where they would be placed in quarantine. The aviation official said the crew tested negative for the virus in Singapore.

“The crew had come into close contact with a passenger on flight TK54 who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with the Turkish Embassy, which has confirmed that the crew will be quarantined upon arrival at Istanbul,” CAAS said.

Singapore’s transport ministry said in a statement on its website that authorities had begun tracing passengers on flight TK54 that may have had contact with the infected person.

Turkish Airlines declined to comment.

Singapore had 112 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which started in China, but a large majority of the patients in the city-state have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Turkey has had no reported cases of the virus.

Reporting by Anshuman Daga, Jamie Freed and Ceyda Caglayan; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Simon Cameron-Moore and Alexander Smith

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