Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan close borders with Iran over coronavirus fears

Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan close borders with Iran over coronavirus fears
Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan and Turkey have instituted new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
3 min read
23 February, 2020
Jordan has banned entry to Iranians [Anadolu]
Turkey said on Sunday it would close its borders with Iran, shutting off both air and land traffic from its eastern neighbour where at least eight people have died from the coronavirus.
The Islamic Republic has suffered the largest death toll from the virus, officially known as COVID-19, outside of China. 

There is concern that coronavirus clusters in Iran as well as in Italy and South Korea could signal a serious new stage in global spread of the virus.

Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey's land border with Iran would be closed from Sunday onwards, with flights from the Islamic Republic ceasing at 8 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).

Road and rail crossings between the two countries were shut three hours earlier, Koca said.

Millions of Iranians travel to Turkey every year.

Turkey's only land crossing with Azerbaijan - linking it to the autonomous exclave of Nakhchivan which also borders Iran - would also be closed, he added.

Pakistan also closed its land border with Iran on Sunday. Meanwhile, neighbouring Afghanistan said it had suspended land and air travel both to and from to the Islamic Republic.

Both countries share long, porous borders with Iran that are often used by smugglers and human traffickers, while millions of Afghan refugees currently live in the Islamic Republic - raising fears that the virus could easily spread over the border.

No coronavirus cases have been detected in Turkey, Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Ankara introduced health checks on people arriving from Iran, already used on travelers from China, earlier this week. 

"By effective early measures we have been able to keep this disease and epidemic away from our country up to now," Koca said. "However, the appearance of the disease in our neighbor Iran, the increase in cases and deaths, has alarmed us."

Jordan introduces entry bans, Israel quarantines 200

Jordan said on Sunday it will bar entry to citizens of China, Iran and South Korea, as well as foreigners travelling from those countries, in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The minister of state for media affairs, Amjad Adayleh, said the decision was part of "preemptive measures... following the rise in cases of coronavirus in South Korea, Iran" and China.

Adayleh said the ban would be "temporary" and imposed on all non-Jordanians coming from the three nations among the worst affected by the illness.

"Jordanians who come from those countries will be placed in quarantine for two weeks to ensure they have not contracted the coronavirus," he said.

Jordan has so far not reported any cases of coronavirus in the kingdom.

Similar bans have been imposed elsewhere on non-citizen travelers from China.

More than 200 Israeli residents have been placed in quarantine after coming into contact with nine South Korean pilgrims.

Travelers from the country are now temporarily barred from entering Israel, with as many as 130 South Korean passengers turned back to Seoul on Sunday amid fears of the virus spreading.

Outside of Iran, the countries in the region where the cases of the coronavirus have been detected are the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel and Lebanon.

More than 78,000 people are though to have been infected worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

Agencies contributed to this report

Follow us on 
Twitter and Instagram to stay connected