A total of 664 Turkish citizens facing illness were transported by the government so far this year, said the country’s health minister on Tuesday.

“This year alone, 453 patients were transported by helicopter ambulance and 211 patients transported by ambulance airplane,” Fahrettin Koca said on Twitter.

Turkey has been providing this service since 2008, he added, underlining that it is the only country in the world which does so for free.

His remarks came after Turkey on Tuesday repatriated from Russia a Turkish student suffering from lung problems who was unable to get treatment there due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical student Haluk Hasan Seyithanoglu was returned via an ambulance airplane.

On Monday, Emrullah Gulusken was evacuated from Sweden after contracting the virus but being unable to get treatment there.

For the holy month of Ramadan, Turkey also has been evacuating tens of thousands of Turkish nationals from 59 countries otherwise stuck due to the virus.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus death toll in Turkey stands at 2,992, and a total of 38,809 patients have been discharged from hospitals after recovering from the virus.

After being first detected in China late last year, the virus has spread to 185 countries and regions.

It has killed over 215,400 people and infected above 3 million, while more than 920,000 have recovered, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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