Rescued Turkish citizens joyous at quarantine end

– 42 people evacuated from coronavirus epicenter in China release from mandatory quarantine in Turkish capital

By Duygu Yener

ANKARA (AA) – Evacuees from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, were happy to be released on Friday from quarantine in Turkey's capital Ankara.

Forty-two people were evacuated from Wuhan on a special military plane sent by Turkey on Feb. 1.

"We completed the mandatory [14-day] period. We were hosted very well," said Burcu Oner, who was an English teacher in Wuhan for three years.

“I would like to thank our country and the Health Minister. They hosted us wonderfully. We are planning to go Anitkabir [the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, in the capital Ankara]. Our first address will be there,” said Oner.

She said she was born at the same hospital where she stayed in quarantine.

“When I told my mother, we will go to this hospital she said: ‘You were born there. I stayed on the third floor, room 307’. I was in the same room,” she said.

Serkan Atamer, 37, who was working in an automobile company, said they were unable to step outside in Wuhan for days at a stretch. But the Turkish state, health minister and consulate were in contact with them throughout.

He added that he missed Turkish cuisine and food in the hospital was delicious.

“I will go to my hometown. Then I will return to China again when the risk is over,” he said, sharing his plans.

A doctorate student, Meltem Soylu, 31, said she was in a state of shock in Wuhan.

“We were shocked when we heard the news of quarantine. We weren’t expecting this. It was a sudden decision and we couldn’t find any kind of transportation. Our embassy reached us so early. They evacuated us with the perfect operation,” she added.

She said once things are better she will go back to Wuhan to pursue her doctorate.

Footage released by the Health Ministry also shows rescued citizens packing their bags and leaving the hospital after the 14-day quarantine period.

According to the China’s National Health Commission, the coronavirus death toll in the country has hit 1,381, with nearly 64,000 more confirmed cases.

The virus has spread to more than 20 countries but only three deaths have been reported outside mainland China, one each in Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

*Writing by Davut Demircan