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Turkey started to scan all passengers coming from international flights with thermal cameras as of Feb. 7, in line with a decision taken by the Health Ministry.

Istanbul Airport Chief Doctor Aykut Yener Kavak told reporters that the number of thermal cameras at the airport was increased from two to six as per precautionary measures. “We are as of now scanning all international passengers with these cameras,” Kavak said.

In a meeting on Jan. 29, Health Ministry officials decided that Turkey would scan all passengers travelling from China with thermal cameras at airports.

Later on Feb. 3, the country extended this implementation to cover all travelers coming Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia.

Turkey stops all flights from China

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca previously announced that as of Feb. 5, all flights from China would be suspended until the end of the month.

Koca told reporters on Feb. 3 that none of the 42 people evacuated from China and the crew that brought them to Turkey have tested positive for coronavirus during the initial tests. In a new statement on Feb. 7, Koca said that a second round of tests also found none of them were infected with the virus. 

Turkey sent a cargo plane to China last week to evacuate 32 Turks and 10 foreign nationals. The 61 people have been then quarantined in a hospital in the Turkish capital Ankara starting on Feb. 1. They will be monitored by health officials for a period of 14 days.

The Turkish Airlines (THY) press adviser Yahya Üstün said on Feb. 3 that the company extended the suspension of its flights to China until the end of February.

Last week Turkish Airlines announced it was suspending flights to China until Feb. 9. 

The death toll from the virus was at least 638 as of Feb. 6 evening. All but two of the deaths were in mainland China, with one person succumbing in the Philippines and another in Hong Kong. More than 31,000 people have been infected with the virus worldwide, the vast majority of them in China.

Travelers from China are being screened at airports worldwide and several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly virus.

Japan, South Korea, U.S., Australia, Pakistan, India, France, Germany, Indonesia and Turkey evacuated their citizens from Wuhan.

At an emergency meeting Jan. 30, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak an international emergency.