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Pakistan closes Iran border over coronavirus fears

Balochistan on high alert as government sets up camps and 100-bed hospital for treatment
by TR Pakistan

The news: Pakistan government closed its land borders with neighboring Iran on Sunday to prevent the infection from spreading into the country.  The borders were sealed shortly after Balochistan imposed emergency, foreseeing the threat of coronavirus transfer to Pakistan. Iran Health Ministry reported new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections across the country to 43, with 12 casualties. The fatality rate in Iran among coronavirus patients is the highest recorded outside China.

Preventive measures: As fears over the spread of coronavirus infection rise, many countries including Turkey, Afghanistan, and Armenia have sealed their land borders with Iran. In Pakistan, five entry points, including the Taftan border crossing, were closed for trade and travel. Increased patrolling and screening camps, including a 100-bed tent hospital were set up in Taftan to protect returning Pakistani citizens. Medical equipment and expert teams have been sent to Taftan to train the health officials in this regard.

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Cross-border concerns: District Health Officers in Balochistan have been advised to take precautions accordingly. The Balochistan provincial government has also asked the Iranian government to issue clearance certificates to those travelling to Pakistan in order to ensure safety from the virus.  Travelers crossing the border must go through strict screening procedures and will be quarantined for 14 days.  The government has also set up camps in Quetta, Mastang, Naushki and Chagai to prevent Pakistani pilgrims from travelling to Iran. While some countries have suspended air traffic coming to and from Iran, Pakistan doesn’t plan to follow suit as health ministry officials are already present at airports. Passengers are only allowed to enter the country after detailed health screening procedures, a Civil Aviation Authority official confirmed.

PM calls CM: Prime Minister Imran Khan contacted Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal to discuss options to prevent coronavirus from entering the country. Kamal assured the Prime Minister that he is personally overseeing all arrangements. Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza also expressed his concern regarding the spread of coronavirus to Pakistan. While Pakistan is taking precautionary measures to ensure its safety, it stands in solidarity with Iran and supports the efforts to combat the outbreak, Mirza tweeted.

Shutdowns in Iran: The government of Iran has taken precautionary measures to halt the spread of the disease. Schools, universities, and educational centers were closed across fifteen provinces in Iran, when the number of infected patients rose to 28. So far, coronavirus cases have been reported in cities of Tehran, Qom, Gilan, Markazi and Tonekabon.

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