Pak-Iran border ‘temporarily’ closed amid coronavirus outbreak in Iran

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Trade activities resume at Pak-Iran border amid coronavirus fears

QUETTA: Pakistan temporarily closed its border with Iran at Taftan on Sunday morning as the number of casualties from the novel coronavirus in the neighbouring country rose to eight.
Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove said that the border was temporarily closed by the authorities in light of reports of coronavirus deaths in Iran.
“Yes we have closed the border,” Langove confirmed.
The Balochistan government has also imposed a ban on the travel of pilgrims from Pakistan into Iran by road and has asked the provincial home department to coordinate with other provinces in this regard.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani has also directed the provincial disaster management authority to establish a 100-bed tent hospital at the Pak-Iran border crossing in Taftan to cope with an emergency situation.
Assistant Commissioner of Taftan Najeebullah Qambrani said the screening of those pilgrims staying at Pakistan House has started.
He added that preparations for setting up 100-bed tents in Taftan have also started and a team of doctors has arrived from Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri spoke to Iranian authorities about measures being taken to protect pilgrims from the novel coronavirus. A statement by the Religious Affairs Ministry said that Haq is also in touch with religious scholars and tour groups in order to design a policy to protect the pilgrims from the disease.
The statement added that “joint teams had been constituted to protect pilgrims, travelling through the Taftan border, from the coronavirus”.
“We stand by our Chinese brothers in this time of difficulty,” the statement quoted Haq as saying.
The COVID-19 outbreak has claimed the lives of eight people in Iran since Wednesday. Authorities have ordered as a “preventive measure” the closure of schools, universities and other educational centres in 14 provinces across the country from Sunday.
The outbreak in Iran has centred on the holy city of Qom, where officials say travellers from China brought the new coronavirus.
Iranian health ministry’s spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour added that out 15 newly confirmed cases, seven were in Qom, while four were in the capital, Tehran.
The Balochistan government earlier imposed an emergency in all bordering districts with Iran with immediate effect.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday also contacted Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani and discussed options to stop the virus from entering the country. He told the chief minister to take all protective measures in the province along the Pak-Iran border.
Alyani had said that he was supervising all safety measures taken by the provincial government.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza also reached out to the Balochistan chief minister and assured all help and cooperation to the provincial government.

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