No mutated COVID-19 found in Turkey so far: Health minister

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Backdropped by the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia, people, wearing protective masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, take pictures on the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, Dec. 21, 2020. (AP Photo)

No specimens of the mutated coronavirus strain were found in Turkey in samples collected across the country, the nation’s health minister announced Saturday.

Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter that the strain was absent both in samples from PCR-positive cases who recently entered Turkey from affected countries nor in other samples collected in different parts of the country.

“Our public health laboratories regularly examine samples from various regions of our country to monitor mutated and variational changes in the virus,” he added.

The variations and mutations determined as part of these examinations are shared with the World Health Organization (WHO), he noted.

The new variant of COVID-19 sweeping the U.K. seems to be 70% more transmissible, forcing new lockdown measures in Britain and travel restrictions from its European neighbors.



As the WHO urged its European members to strengthen measures against the new variant of COVID-19, European nations including Germany, Ireland, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Sweden said they were moving to block air travel from Britain. Beyond Europe, Israel and El Salvador also said late Sunday they were banning flights from the U.K. – the first nations outside of Europe to take measures against the new virus strain.

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