Coronavirus strands thousands at Istanbul Airport, scuffles break out

Thousands of people have been stranded at Istanbul Airport for a week due to the shutdown of flights to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Reuters said on Wednesday. 

Around 1,500 of the roughly 2,000 passengers stuck at the airport, usually one of the world’s busiest international hubs, were Algerian citizens, a spokesperson for the airport operator IGA said. 

Other stranded travellers are from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. 

Turkey has halted flights to some 70 countries in an attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Footage on social media this week appeared to show scuffles breaking out at the airport between passengers wearing medical masks and the police.

Algeria’s state carrier Air Algerie said on Monday that all passenger flights were suspended. A source at the airline said no final decision had been made on repatriation, and that it was up to the Algerian government to make a decision.

Air Algerie, along with Turkish Airlines and Turkish Red Crescent, are providing meals and essentials for the people stuck at the airport, IGA said in a statement.