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Pakistan ‘concerned’ over Iran coronavirus outbreak, closes border

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Zafar Mirza on Monday said that Pakistan was very concerned about the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in Iran but stood in solidarity with Tehran as it managed the outbreak in the holy city of Qom.

“We’re concerned with the outbreak of #COVID2019 in Qom/Iran causing 5 deaths. We are alert & monitoring the situation closely & taking rapid actions to keep Pakistan safe. We fully support efforts of IR Iran in managing the outbreak & we stand in solidarity with them,” he said.

The statement from the Pakistani health official comes after death toll from the coronavirus in Iran rose to eight, the highest outside China, with 43 infections.

Four immediate neighbours of the Islamic republic — Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Armenia — said on Sunday they would close land borders, while three imposed restrictions on air traffic, amid growing regional concerns about the spread of the virus.

Also read: Pakistan declares emergency in areas bordering Iran amid coronavirus fears

Pakistan closes border with Iran
Pakistan had on Sunday closed its Taftan border with Iran, stopping movement of people in light of the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country. A large number of pilgrims and traders travel to Iran via the Taftan border crossing on a daily basis.

Authorities sealed the border and introduced screening procedures and increased patrolling in a bid to ensure the infection does not spread to Balochistan.

The decision comes a day after Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan announced that an emergency had been imposed in the province due to the outbreak of the virus in Iran. However, flights to and from Iran have not been suspended, confirmed an official of the Civil Aviation Authority Pakistan (CAAP).

“The staff of health ministry is already present at the airports and a passenger is allowed entry only after clearance of health declaration,” he said. The official further said that flights to and from China had not been suspended hence it was likely that the same won’t be done in the case of Iran.

Balochistan decides to keep pilgrims in Iran
Spokesperson of the Government of Balochistan, Liaquat Shahwani, said that Pakistan had decided to keep its pilgrims in Iran for the time being. He said that the provincial government had decided that Pakistanis from districts bordering Iran will not be allowed to travel to the country.

“The government is alert about the coronavirus. We are speaking to the Iranian government about our pilgrims in Iran,” he said. Shahwani said that pilgrims from Iran will be allowed to enter Pakistan after a thorough screening process.

Shahwani said that isolation wards had been set up, medicines were being provided, and doctors were monitoring the situation at the border. He said that the provincial government has asked the Iranian government to give clearance certificates for its people coming to Pakistan.

“People coming from Iran will be quarantined there for 14 days,” he said. “Very few people will travel to Iran from Pakistan. However, more people from Iran come into Pakistan via the crossing,” he added. He said that only those who had a clearance certificate will be allowed to enter into the country from Iran.

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