Ankara: Turkey on Sunday became one of the latest nations to close its border with neighbouring Iran, joining a list of Jordan and Pakistan. Afghanistan also announced it would suspend flight operations with Iran after several cases of infection of the novel coronavirus outbreak were reported from the country.
While Ankara announced is “temporary” closing its border with Iran over the spread of the respiratory infection, Jordan barred travellers from Tehran as a preemptive measure.
"We have decided to shut the land border temporarily after an increase in the number of cases in our neighbor Iran," said Turkey’s Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, adding the country was "alarmed" by the growing number of cases and was forced to take the measures after speaking with Iranian authorities.
The land and railway borders will be closed from 5pm local time (2pm GMT) on Sunday, said Koca. "Air traffic from Iran into Turkey would also be halted from 8pm local time (5pm GMT) on Sunday but departures to Iran could continue," he said.
There is not yet any confirmed incident in Turkey, with Koca saying that five suspicious cases treated in the Van province on the Iran border were negative.
Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, however, said exports from Turkey to Iran and transactions continued "in a controlled way".
Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs, Amjad Adayleh, said the decision was part of “preemptive measures, following the risk 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 added.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, has also taken a similar measure as it temporarily halted travel to and from Iran over the virus fears.
"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 office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan said in a statement posted on Twitter.
Earlier on Sunday, Iran reported eight deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll of any country outside China, as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused foreign media of trying to use the outbreak to sabotage a general election.