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Mongolia bans South Korea flights over COVID-19 fears

Mongolia bans South Korea flights over COVID-19 fears

South Korea's Korean Air planes and foreign airplanes sit on the tarmac at Incheon international airport, west of Seoul. (Photo: AFP/Jung Yeon-Je)

ULAANBAATAR: Mongolia will ban flights to and from South Korea starting Tuesday (Feb 25) until Mar 2 due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, weeks after closing its border with China over the epidemic.

The decision by the National Emergency Commission was announced by Enkhamgalan Byambatseren, a member of parliament, who told Mongolians "it will be wiser to stay in (South) Korea where the healthcare system is much better than Mongolia".

Mongolia has not reported any cases of the novel coronavirus but is nervous about contagion since nearly 2,600 people have died in neighbouring China and dozens more in other countries.

Interactive: COVID-19 cases worldwide

Travel into and out of the capital Ulaanbaatar has been banned for the Mongolian Chinese New Year, known as Tsagaan Sar, which started Sunday and ends Thursday.

The landlocked country has also closed rural highways and suspended train and bus services during the five-day holiday.

The number of cases in South Korea has soared past 800 in the past few days - the highest figure outside China - leaving eight dead.

READ: COVID-19: South Korea raises virus alert to 'grave' as infections surge

Mongolia late last month banned Chinese nationals and foreigners entering from China by plane, train or road.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the novel coronavirus and its developments

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Source: AFP/nr

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