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Turkey shuts Iran border, halts flights due to coronavirus

People wear masks after deaths from and new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Tehran, Iran on February 21, 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency]
People wear masks after deaths from and new cases of the coronavirus are confirmed in Tehran, Iran on 21 February 2020 [Fatemeh Bahrami / Anadolu Agency]

Turkey has closed its border with Iran and halted incoming flights as a precaution to stop the potential spread of coronavirus after the neighbouring country reported 43 cases of the disease, the health minister said on Sunday, as reported by Reuters.

All highways and railways were closed as of 5 pm local time (14:00 GMT) and flights from Iran suspended, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters. Flights from Turkey to Iran are still allowed.

Eight people have died in Iran, the highest death toll from the new coronavirus outside of China where it originated.

Five people in the southeastern Turkish city of Van were found to not have coronavirus after being put under observation, Koca said. Turkey has been monitoring the border with thermal cameras in recent days, he added.

There are three main land crossings along the roughly 500 km (310 mile) border between Turkey’s southeast and Iran’s northwest.

Read: Kuwait suspends flights to Iran over coronavirus outbreak

Baghdad had banned crossings by non-Iraqis from Iran on Thursday for three days and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday night that the ban would be extended. He did not specify until when.

The coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, has swept across numerous countries in the world and gave rise to increased fears of its impact since it was first identified in China’s Wuhan province earlier this year.

Read: Israel may quarantine 200 South Korean tourists in army base

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