Turkey could become the next popular holiday destination to be added to the UK’s quarantine list as the country sees the highest number in coronavirus cases since June.
The country saw a total of 1,256 new cases in the last 24 hours sparking fears the air bridge to Britain could be dropped and Britons could be barred from holidaying in Turkey without strict quarantining measures.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that the number of seriously ill patients, mostly with underlying medical conditions, was also on the rise with 668 people.
People wearing face masks shopping at the Eminonu bazaar, Istanbul, amid Covid pandemic
Turkey saw a total of 1,256 new cases in the last 24 hours sparking fears the air bridge to Britain could be dropped and those returning from holiday could be forced to quarantine for 14 days
The ministry said 21 people died of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the confirmed death toll to 5,955.
More than 248,000 people have tested positive for the virus in Turkey since March.
Experts say, however, that all confirmed officials are undercounts due to limited testing, missed mild cases, possible government manipulation and other factors.
Mask wearing in public is mandatory in much of Turkey but the country has lifted many of the restrictions previously put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
As it stands, Turkey has seen a total of 248,117 coronavirus cases and 5,955 deaths, ranking it sixth in Asia and fifth in Europe.
Doctors have been warning the virus has hit health workers as it gained traction through the summer ahead of planned in-person school reopenings next month.
For three weeks last month, new cases had hovered just under 1,000. They were last this high on June 30.
Turkey mostly lifted a partial lockdown on June 1 and recently imposed fines for those who do not wear masks and maintain social distancing in public.
The authorities had allowed the reopening of restaurants, cafes, parks and beaches, as well as lifting the ban on inter-city travel, as the country eases the restrictions it had imposed in a bid to stem the spread of the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease.
The Turkish Medics Association said in a report on Friday that, based on its analysis of government antibody tests, there are likely some 10 times more active coronavirus patients than suggested by the official tally based on virus tests.
It added that 27 doctors and 53 healthcare workers have died from the virus in the last five months.
‘The cautious approach expected of individuals was not demonstrated by the central authority,’ it said.
Earlier this month, Koca dismissed as ‘unfounded’ claims that some hospitals and cities were at capacity due to COVID-19.
The news has sparked fears that Britons could be left racing to get home to the UK if the Government add Turkey to the list of countries which require a 14-day quarantine on return.
Turkish authorities had allowed the reopening of restaurants, cafes, parks and beaches, as well as lifting the ban on inter-city travel but has strict measures in place at the airport for arrivals
Many holidaymakers were left frustrated after they missed the Government’s deadline for returning from France after the country was added to the list at short notice.
The news sparked a scramble across the Channel as Eurostar services to St Pancras from Paris appeared to be quieter than on Friday and thousands of passengers snapped up tickets at increased prices to get home before 4am on Saturday to avoid a fortnight of self-isolation.
Turkey has its own stringent measures for people arriving there, including temperature checks at the airport.
Anyone who is found to have the coronavirus is forced to quarantine, sometimes at their own expense.
The Government has said that countries with more than 20 new cases per 100,000 population will be added to the quarantine list.
Currently there are 18.5 infections per 100,000 people in Turkey, The Sun reports, an increase on the 15.8 recorded last month.
Air bridges remain intact between the UK and Australia, Croatia, Finland, Hungary and the Isle of Mann, along with 65 other countries.
Greece is also on the brink of becoming the next country to be added to Britain’s two-week quarantine list after an alarming surge in coronavirus cases.
Hundreds of thousands of British tourists face having their plans plunged into chaos after EU figures showed the Greek infection rate had quadrupled in two weeks.
It has soared past the benchmark of 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people – the point at which Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the introduction of quarantine measures was triggered.
It came as 160,000 holidaymakers scrambled to get home from France, Malta and the Netherlands before new quarantine rules came into force at 4am yesterday.
Friends returning from France at St Pancras rail station in London said they will have to isolate despite all testing negative for coronavirus in the past week.
Sanne Williams, who works in a care home, said she faces losing out on a week’s wages.
She said it was too expensive to change her ticket to Friday, adding: ‘I’m obviously annoyed. I was supposed to go back to work on the 21st but now I’ll be at home for another week without money.
‘Of course I will quarantine, they have all my details, passport, travel times.’
EU figures showed the Greek infection rate had quadrupled in two weeks, soaring past the benchmark of 20 Covid cases per 100,000 people
Friday saw tens of thousands of UK tourists in France make last-ditch bids to beat the quarantine, with tickets for planes, trains and ferries going for increased prices, with some air fares around six times more expensive than usual.
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the train service which carries vehicles through the Channel Tunnel, said it carried nearly 30% more vehicles from France to the UK on Friday than forecast.
Some 22 extra departures were laid on, carrying more than 30,000 passengers in 11,600 vehicles, it said.
The dash to get home was prompted by the decision to impose a 14-day self-isolation quarantine on travellers from France due to rising numbers of coronavirus cases in the country.
The quarantine conditions also apply to travellers returning to or visiting the UK from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks & Caicos and Aruba.