Turkey bans Britons after detecting cases of coronavirus variant in travellers from UK

FILE PHOTO: Pegasus Airlines self check-in counters are seen at the nearly empty domestic departure terminal of the Sabiha Gokcen Airport, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Istanbul, Turkey June 11, 2020. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has banned Britons from entering the country after detecting 15 cases of a new and more contagious variant of the coronavirus in travellers from Britain, the government said on Friday.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said the 15 travellers have been isolated, as have those with whom they were in contact. No other cases of the COVID-19 variant have been detected in nationwide regular screenings.

"The situation is under control," Koca said in a statement. "Entrance to Turkey from the U.K. has been temporarily suspended."

Turkey's virus death toll rose by 212 in the last 24 hours, separate health ministry data showed on Friday, bringing total deaths to 21,093 in the country.

The number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 12,203 over the same period to bring total cases to more than 2.22 million since the outbreak struck early last year.

The current lockdown will be lifted at 5 a.m. local time on Monday, although Ankara has also imposed weekday curfews and limited restaurants and cafes to delivery and take-out service.

(Reporting by Irem Koca and Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Angus MacSwan)

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