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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron will hold a meeting to discuss the situation in Syria via a teleconference on March 17 as they take precautions because of the coronavirus, according to Turkey’s state run Anadolu Agency.
The initial plan was for Merkel and Macron to visit Turkey to discuss Syria and the refugee crisis, but the decision to meet remotely comes after Turkey confirmed three more coronavirus cases, taking its total to five. The country also announced it was suspending flights to several European countries to attempt to curb the outbreak.
“All five cases are directly connected,” Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters at a press conference with other cabinet ministers on Friday. “We urge our citizens to avoid travel to all countries.”
Authorities said they would stop Turkish flights to Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands from 8 a.m. local time on Saturday until April 17, according to Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan.
Output of ethyl alcohol and disinfectants will be increased by suspending the blending of ethanol in gasoline for three months.
The confirmation of three more infections comes a day after Erdogan met with top officials and decided to shut universities for three weeks and suspend official visits. Students will receive lessons remotely during the second week that classrooms are shut.
Turkish banks are also suspending trips and halting travel in order to minimize the potential negative effects of the coronavirus.
“All international trips and in-person meetings have been suspended as precaution against the coronavirus pandemic, Turkish lender Isbank said in a statement. Akbank T.A.S. is splitting personnel into teams to minimize the contagion risk. “Travel for business and training purposes has been suspended, and employees have been given the necessary warnings with regard to any personal travel,” the bank said.
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