Sunday Feb 23, 2020
KARACHI: Pakistan has closed its Taftan border with Iran, stopping movement of people in light of the outbreak of Coronavirus in Iran, a report claimed on Sunday.
A large number of pilgrims visit Iran from Pakistan via the Taftan border crossing on a daily basis. Authorities have sealed the border, introduced screening procedures and increased patrolling in a bid to ensure the infection does not spread to Balochistan.
Iran on Saturday ordered the closure of schools, universities and cultural centres after the number of people infected with the deadly virus rose to 28 with five fatal cases.
Mir Zia Ullah Langove, Home Minister of southwestern Balochistan province told Arab News Pakistan that Prime Minister Imran Khan had assured the Balochistan government of help.
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.
Spokesperson of the Government of Balochistan Liaquat Shahwani said that it had been decided to keep the 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 Irani 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 that isolation wards, medicines 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.
A meeting chaired by the chief secretary on the coronavirus situation in Iran was held earlier during the day. The secretary directed the government to stop all movement to and from the province to Iran. He was briefed that government officials will be posted at the international airport who will conduct a screening process of foreigners coming to the country.
PM Imran, CM Balochistan discuss coronavirus outbreak in Iran
Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal talked to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday to discuss the steps his government was taking to control the virus spreading over the border into the province.
“Had communication with PM and federal health minister on coronavirus... from first day all precautionary steps being taken,” he tweeted, adding that dedicated teams were fully vigilant with all precautions in place for an emergency.