Turkey’s state-run Turkish Airlines (THY) suspended flights to Brazil, South Africa, Nepal and Sri Lanka as of Monday, Diken news website reported
“Travel health and safety is a top priority for Turkish Airlines,” Yahya Üstün, THY’s press consultant said via social media on Sunday in announcing the halt to flights. The post was later removed.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year, Turkey has been imposing flight bans as part of an effort to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. European countries have also tightened curbs on travel to the country citing the risk of contracting the virus.
Of the four countries, only Brazil ranks above Turkey in cases of COVID-19 per 1 million people, according to ourworldindata.org. Infections in all four countries have been declining over the past few weeks.
Turkey reported 21,624 COVID-19 cases on Sunday. Deaths totalled 189, the Health Ministry said.
COVID-19 infections in Turkey have remained elevated after schools re-opened in September. The number of cases began rising sharply after the government fully lifted curfews and travel restrictions on the population at the beginning of July. New cases totalled less than 5,000 per day in early July.
Vaccination rates in Turkey are trailing those in the neighbouring EU and many other developed countries, meaning its population is more exposed to increases in infection rates.