A total of 28 pilgrims were caught in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum after escaping from coronavirus quarantine.
The pilgrims, who returned from Saudi Arabia and were supposed to stay under quarantine for 14 days, hired a private bus to avoid quarantine, Okay Memiş, governor of the eastern province of Erzurum said.
According to Memiş, the pilgrims from Erzurum got on the bus they hired to head to their hometown after landing in Turkey. Upon receiving a tip on the incident, Memiş intervened and made sure that the pilgrims were apprehended on their way.
“We sent them to the quarantine areas in [the Central Anatolian province of] Konya and [the capital] Ankara. There are those who manage to avoid quarantine. Our citizens should let us know if they witness such an incident,” Memiş told reporters.
On March 16, a group of pilgrims in Konya also attempted to escape from coronavirus quarantine, prompting a brawl to erupt between the pilgrims and police.
In a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus, Turkey has prepared student dormitories in 16 provinces, including Istanbul and Ankara, to quarantine its citizens returning from abroad, as well as those returning from Umrah, a pilgrimage rite carried out in the holy cities throughout the year, which is separate from the annual week-long haj.
Separately, some 500 pilgrims in the Black Sea province of Rize weren’t put under quarantine and didn’t undergo any tests, daily Evrensel reported.
Rize Deputy Governor Ahmet Dalkıran confirmed that the pilgrims were sent home, but added that “they are in dialogue with all of them.”
The incident stirred panic in the province and opposition parties asked the reason for why the 500 pilgrims in question weren’t quarantined.