By Firat Tasdemir
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey announced late Friday it will close all border gates to passengers coming from nine European countries to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
An authorization letter signed by Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said passengers coming from Germany, Spain, France, Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, and the Netherlands will not be allowed into Turkey beginning 8 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) Saturday.
It also said that travelers from Turkey to those countries are temporarily suspended.
The outbreak has caused serious casualties in some European countries, especially in Italy and the letter said some precautions were taken against other countries, where the virus has rapidly spread.
Other third country citizens, who have been in those countries in the last 14 days, will not be allowed entry to Turkey.
It noted that no restrictions will be applied to the citizens of the mentioned countries who want to leave Turkey.
With almost 15,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,260 deaths as of Friday, Italy has the highest toll in Europe.
After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 123 countries and territories.
The global death toll nears 5,000, with more than 132,500 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization, which declared the outbreak a “pandemic.”
*Writing by Sena Guler