Singapore sends Turkish Airlines flight back empty after coronavirus case

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SINGAPORE (March 5): A Turkish Airlines aircraft was flown back to Istanbul without any passengers on Thursday on orders from authorities in Singapore after a passenger who had arrived on the same plane on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus.

Singapore's aviation regulator said that the three pilots and 11 other crew of flight TK54 that had arrived on Tuesday were on the return flight to Istanbul, where they would be placed in quarantine.

"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 on Thursday.

"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.

The Straits Times newspaper said 200 passengers were affected. It issued a correction to an earlier report, cited by Reuters, that all of them had been tested for the coronavirus.

Turkish Airlines did not respond immediately to a request for comment on the number of passengers on board.

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.