Turkey on Thursday slammed the New York Times for its misleading use of photos in reporting new U.S. travel restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The U.S. on Wednesday announced it was suspending travel from Europe in an effort to stem the epidemic. The restrictions include EU and Schengen region countries, but does not include Turkey – a country which to date has only one confirmed case of the virus.
Despite these facts, the paper’s coverage of the measures featured two photos of Istanbul, Turkey’s tourism and commercial capital, a city American citizens are free to visit.
"The Western media shared this news by posting photos of Turkey, although it is not on the flight restriction list," Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said on Twitter.
"Like coronavirus, this mentality must be quarantined," he added.
He also attached two photos the Times published alongside its stories, of scenes inside and outside Istanbul mosques. One shows disinfection work to protect the mosque from the virus, while the other includes the Turkish flag.
Gulnur Aybet, a senior advisor to Turkey’s president, also tweeted about the photos: "The US bans flights from Europe due to coronavirus. Turkey is not even included in the list of countries covered in that ban.
“But the photos under that headline are those from Turkey... go figure... oh and in cases like this, we're considered to be part of 'Europe'..."
On social media, thousands of Turkish citizens also criticized the misleading photos.
The countries affected by the restrictions include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The virus originated in Wuhan, China last December and has since spread to more than 100 countries.
After months of successful containment of the COVID-19, Turkey has only confirmed a single case on the virus. On Wednesday, the health minister announced the male patient, who recently returned from Europe, and his family are in good condition but still under quarantine.
The worldwide death toll from the virus is over 4,600, with more than 124,500 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has declared the outbreak a global pandemic.