Coronavirus: Pakistan-Iran border remains closed on fourth day


By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Representative

Islamabad: The closure of the Pakistan-Iran border continued for a fourth straight day on Wednesday amid the coronavirus outbreak in Iran suspending trade activities and pilgrims’ visit.

The Balochistan’s provincial government has also stopped pilgrims from traveling to Iran via Taftan border.

A large number of pilgrims from Pakistan v visit Iran 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.

In light of the provincial government’s orders, the administration has set up check posts in the district to stop visitors from entering the province from federal capital Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Levies, the paramilitary force and police officers at the check post have been directed to send back those coming into the province from KP and Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the Senate Standing Committee on Interior summoned an emergency session for Thursday to review the threat from coronavirus spread.

Pakistan’s Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed also announced the suspension of train service between Quetta and Pakistan’s Taftan area amid fears of coronavirus outbreak.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Rasheed said the train service would remain suspended as long the border was closed.

Similarly, trade activities between Islamabad and Tehran continue to be suspended for a fourth consecutive day due to border closure.

The decision came 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, an official of the Civil Aviation Authority Pakistan (CAAP) has confirmed.

Separately, the Pakistani government has started screening those coming in from Afghanistan via Torkham and Chaman border crossings.

District administration officials told media that at the Torkham border with Afghanistan, more than 100,000 people have been screened since February 19.

According to a health official, screening is underway at the border crossing and an isolation ward has also been set-up in Miranshan area.

Directorate General Health Services Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in a letter, stated that an emergency has been imposed in the province due to ongoing coronavirus scare.

The letter was forwarded to all hospitals in provincial capital Peshawar, warning of strict action against dereliction of duty by officials.

The District Health Officer Peshawar said that thermal scanning of travelers is being carried out at checkpoints at Torkham border.

He said that the staff checks temperature of the people with thermal scanners and that there has been an isolation ward at a hospital near the border.

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