Several countries shut Iran border, halt flights due to COVID-19

Several countries shut Iran border, halt flights due to COVID-19

A member of a medical team takes a the temperature of a young Iraqi traveller
A member of a medical team takes a the temperature of a young Iraqi traveller at the Shalamjah border crossing, some 15km southeast of the city of Basra, upon her return from Iran on Feb 21, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Hussein Faleh)

ISTANBUL: Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan have extended entry bans or closed their borders with Iran in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Turkey on Sunday (Feb 23) said it closed its border with Iran and halted incoming flights as a precaution after the neighbouring country reported 43 cases of the disease, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters.

All highways and railways were closed as of 5pm local time and flights from Iran suspended, while flights from Turkey to Iran are still allowed.

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Turkey has been monitoring the border with thermal cameras in recent days, Koca added.

There are three main land crossings along the roughly 500km border between Turkey's southeast and Iran's northwest.

Pakistan has similarly closed its border with Iran over coronavirus fears, AFP reported citing an official. 

READ: Jordan bars travellers from China, Iran, South Korea over COVID-19

Afghanistan authorities on Sunday too suspended air and ground travel to Iran, where millions of Afghan refugees live, as fears across the region grow over a jump in new coronavirus infections.

"To prevent the spread of the novel #coronavirus and protect the public, Afghanistan suspends all passenger movement (air and ground) to and from Iran," the office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan said in a statement on Twitter.

Iraq has meanwhile extended an entry ban for any non-Iraqis coming from Iran, the prime minister said. 

READ: Iran announces low poll turnout, blames COVID-19 "propaganda"

Baghdad had banned crossings by non-Iraqis from Iran on Thursday for three days and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday night that the ban would be extended. He did not specify until when.

Eight people have died in Iran, the highest death toll from the new coronavirus outside of China where it originated.

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Source: Agencies/zl

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