Coronavirus: Turkey and Pakistan close borders with Iran
February 23, 2020
Iran has reported 43 infections, with eight deaths, and Turkey, Pakistan and Armenia have responded by closing their borders with the Islamic Republic. Afghanistan has suspended air and ground travel to Iran.
Turkey will "temporarily" close its border with Iran due to coronavirus fears, it announced on Sunday. Pakistan revealed shortly afterwards that it was also closing its border with Iran.
The Middle Eastern country has seen a recent spate of cases and Turkey has taken the precautionary measure to prevent the virus from spreading, it said.
The Islamic Republic has reported 43 cases in total, with eight deaths. It is the highest death toll from the virus outside of China.
"We have decided to shut the land border temporarily after an increase in the number of cases in our neighbor Iran," Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters.
The land and railway borders will be closed from 5 p.m. local time (1400 GMT) on Sunday, the minister said. He added that air traffic from Iran into Turkey would also be stopped from 8 p.m. (1700 GMT) but departures to Iran could continue.
Koca said Turkey was "alarmed" by the increasing number of infections in Iran and was forced to take the measure after speaking with the authorities in Tehran.
Pakistan closes its border
Soon after the Turkish announcement, Pakistan said it was closing its border with Iran.
"We have closed our border with Iran because of the reports of coronavirus there," said Ayesha Zehri, a senior government official in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan's province, which borders Iran.
Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Armenia act
Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities banned travel to and from Iran, as Afghanistan did likewise due to virus fears.
So far there have been three suspected infections reported in Afghanistan's western province of Herat and the National Security Council of Afghanistan said on Twitter: "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 suspension also includes the import of poultry products (eggs and chicken) from Iran and Pakistan."
Later on Sunday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan confirmed in a Facebook post it will close its border for two weeks with Iran.