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Turkey’s Antalya boosts virus tests for tourists

Turkey’s Antalya boosts virus tests for tourists

At least 65,000 foreign tourists have undergone coronavirus tests in Turkey’s tourism hotspot Antalya since July 1, local authorities have confirmed.

The Turkish economy relies heavily on foreign tourists, thus the country eased restrictions on travel and hotels earlier in the summer. Tests are available at a center set up at Antalya Airport, as well as private-run hospitals and hotels in the province. The airport was reopened for domestic flights in June and international flights on July 1. Several countries, including Germany, from where a large number of tourists arrive in Antalya each year for vacation, require tests and a 14-day quarantine for holidaymakers returning home. Tourists pay 15 euros for tests at the airport center, which runs up to 500 tests daily.

Dr. Ünal Hülür, head of Antalya’s Health Directorate, says that along with the airport, Health Ministry crews are regularly dispatched to hotels for tests. Tourists are also allowed to visit labs run by public hospitals for tests. Currently, 12 laboratories are authorized for tests, offering their services to tourists both in central Antalya and popular vacation resort towns like Kemer and Belek. “The results can be made available in around four to eight hours. All laboratories work around the clock and we sped up the process,” Hülür told Demirören News Agency (DHA) Sunday.

Tourists arriving at the Antalya airport are checked with thermal cameras and those with high fever and suspected symptoms of coronavirus are tested. Hülür said 600 people were screened for high fever and had undergone tests since July 1 at the airport. Hotels and other sites offering accommodation throughout Antalya are regularly disinfected, while Coast Guard crews inspect excursion boats and beaches serving to tourists.

The crews are patrolling a 650-kilometer stretch of shoreline to ensure rules the mitigate the outbreak are abided by, such as social distancing and mask-wearing and speak English, Russian and other languages to inform tourists on how to maintain measures. In one month, 2,112 boats serving tourists have been inspected. Abdullah Demircan, who runs an association of yacht operators in Antalya, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that they had also decreased passenger capacity as a measure against the outbreak. “Each guest has their temperature taken before they are admitted aboard. Those without masks are provided with them.”

Russian tourist Mihaela Postolachi said she was happy to be in Antalya. “Boat staffs wear masks and everyone else is required to wear one. They are also careful to maintain distance. It is safe to be in Antalya,” she said.

Bünyamin Erdoğmuş, a Turkish tourist, said they had been worried about going on vacation but felt comfortable when they saw all measures were in place, “There are strict measures everywhere, from the hotel we stay at to the boat we have boarded.”