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COVID19: Turkey blocks coronavirus supplies flight from China

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Cyprus on Wednesday said a chartered flight from China carrying 36 tonnes of Covid-19 medical supplies was diverted to  Moscow after Turkey denied the aircraft entry into its airspace.

Cypriot Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told the official Cyprus News Agency that Ankara denied the pilot permission to enter Turkish airspace on its way to the Mediterranean island.

He said the pilot did not have enough fuel to take a longer route, so had to make a refuelling stop in Russia.

“The pilot changed route and is heading to Moscow airport, in Russia, in order to land and refuel,” Karousos said.
He said the Cyprus Foreign Ministry was informed of the incident and will issue a demarche.

The plane is expected to arrive in Cyprus later on Wednesday evening, at least six hours delayed.

Cyprus chartered the flight from China to bring medical supplies needed in the fight against coronavirus including protective masks, gowns, shoe covers and disposable surgical gowns.

Cyprus has kept coronavirus infections to a minimum by enforcing strict measures since the outbreak in March.

It has avoided its hospitals being overwhelmed with 903 cases to date and 16 COVID-19 deaths.

Ankara enforces an embargo on Cyprus flights and shipping traffic.

Nicosia has often protested against Turkey for preventing ships sailing under the Cyprus flag from entering Turkish ports and Cypriot aircraft entering Turkish airspace.

UN-backed talks on reunifying the island as a bizonal, bi-communal federation collapsed in July 2017 and have not resumed.