Turkish Airlines plane flies home empty after Singapore coronavirus case

Singapore’s aviation regulator said the Turkish Airlines pilots and crew of flight TK54 would be placed in quarantine on their return to Istanbul. (AFP)
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Updated 05 March 2020

Turkish Airlines plane flies home empty after Singapore coronavirus case

  • Infected passenger was not Turkish and transited through Istanbul en route to Singapore from another location
  • Turkish Airlines crew tested negative for the virus in Singapore

SINGAPORE/ISTANBUL: A Turkish Airlines aircraft was flown back to Istanbul without any passengers on board on Thursday on orders from authorities in Singapore after a passenger who had arrived on the same plane on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus.
The infected passenger was not Turkish and transited through Istanbul en route to Singapore from another location, a Turkish aviation official told Reuters, adding there were 143 passengers aboard the flight, as well as three pilots and 10 crew members.
Singapore’s aviation regulator said that the pilots and crew of flight TK54 that had arrived on Tuesday were on the return flight to Istanbul, where they would be placed in quarantine. The aviation official said the crew tested negative for the virus in Singapore.
“The crew had come into close contact with a passenger on flight TK54 who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said in a statement.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with the Turkish Embassy, which has confirmed that the crew will be quarantined upon arrival at Istanbul,” CAAS said.
Singapore’s transport ministry said in a statement on its website that authorities had begun tracing passengers on flight TK54 that may have had contact with the infected person.
Turkish Airlines declined to comment.
Singapore had 112 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which started in China, but a large majority of the patients in the city-state have recovered and been discharged from hospital.
Turkey has had no reported cases of the virus.


Iranian professor jailed in US returns home

Updated 1 min 29 sec ago

Iranian professor jailed in US returns home

  • Tehran and Washington have denied reports that his release was part of a prisoner swap

DUBAI: An Iranian professor who was acquitted in the United States of stealing trade secrets arrived in Iran on Wednesday, Iranian media reported.
Materials science professor Sirous Asgari, 59, was indicted by US federal prosecutors in April 2016. A federal judge in Ohio acquitted Asgari in November 2019.
Tehran and Washington have denied reports that his release was part of a prisoner swap.
US authorities said in May that Asgari, who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in April, would be deported once he received medical clearance.
Photos published by Iranian state media showed Asgari being reunited with his family in Tehran on Wednesday.
Last year, Iran freed US citizen Xiyue Wang, who had been held for three years on spying charges, and the United States released Iranian Massoud Soleimani, who faced charges of violating US sanctions on Iran.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has led Iran, the worst-hit country in the region, to temporarily release some prisoners in a bid to curb the spread of infections.
In mid-March, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tehran was considering freeing some US citizens as Michael White, a US navy veteran who has been detained in Iran since 2018, was released from prison on medical furlough. He remains in Iran.