ERZURUM, Turkey 

Some 151 Turkish citizens who were evacuated from Mali and Niger as part of measures against the novel coronavirus safely reached the country Tuesday, sources said.

They arrived in Erzurum province on special Turkish Airlines flights.

Following mandatory health checks, they were sent to student dormitories in Erzurum to be quarantined for 14 days.

Adem Atılgan, one of passengers, told Anadolu Agency they were very happy to be back in Turkey.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide has now surpassed 3 million, while the death toll is above 211,000 and more than 894,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

Despite the rising number of cases, most people who contract the virus suffer only mild symptoms before making a recovery.

*Writing by Burak Dag in Ankara

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