By Muhammad Luqman
Pakistani authorities have closed Pak-Iran border at Taftan town in Chagai district of South-Western province of Balochistan to avoid spread of coronavirus reportedly found in Iran.
The transit gate and joint markets at the border have been closed, while trade and traveling activities suspended, Radio Pakistan reported on Sunday.
According to authorities , precautionary and protective measures are being taken in Taftan where 100-bed tent hospital is being established to combat emergency situation at Pak-Iran border.
Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove told media that the border was temporarily closed by the authorities in light of reports of coronavirus deaths in Iran.
“Yes we have closed the border,” Langove confirmed.
— Radio Pakistan (@RadioPakistan) February 23, 2020
The Balochistan government has also imposed a ban on the travel of pilgrims from Pakistan into Iran by road and has asked the provincial home department to coordinate with other provinces in this regard.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani has also directed the provincial disaster management authority to establish a 100-bed tent hospital at the Pak-Iran border crossing in Taftan to cope with an emergency situation.
Assistant Commissioner of Taftan Najeebullah Qambrani said the screening of those pilgrims staying at Pakistan House has started, according to English newspaper, Daily Dawn.
He added that preparations for setting up 100-bed tents in Taftan have also started and a team of doctors has arrived from Islamabad.
Meanwhile, Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri spoke to Iranian authorities about measures being taken to protect pilgrims from the novel coronavirus. A statement by the Religious Affairs Ministry said that Qadri is also in touch with religious scholars and tour groups in order to design a policy to protect the pilgrims from the disease.
The statement added that “joint teams had been constituted to protect pilgrims, travelling through the Taftan border, from the coronavirus”.
“We stand by our Chinese brothers in this time of difficulty,” the statement quoted Haq as saying.
The Balochistan government earlier imposed an emergency in all bordering districts with Iran with immediate effect.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has also contacted Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani and discussed options to stop the virus from entering the country. He told the chief minister to take all protective measures in the province along the Pak-Iran border.
Alyani had said that he was supervising all safety measures taken by the provincial government.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza also talked to the Balochistan chief minister and assured all help and cooperation to the provincial government.
The deadly COVID-19 outbreak has claimed the lives of eight people in Iran since Wednesday. Authorities have ordered as a “preventive measure” the closure of schools, universities and other educational centres in 14 provinces across the country from Sunday.
The outbreak in Iran has centred on the holy city of Qom, where officials say travellers from China brought the new coronavirus, according to international media reports.