Dubai: Balochitan province in Pakistan has declared emergency in areas close to Pakistan-Iran border in the wake of reports of death in Iran due to Coronavirus cases.
Pakistan has also announced to temporarily shut its Taftan border with Iran and suspended all passengers and cargo transportation on Saturday as the number of casualties from the novel coronavirus in Iran rose to eight.
Balochistan Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove confirmed that the border was temporarily closed by the authorities in light of reports of coronavirus deaths in Iran, reported Dawn news. “Yes we have closed the border,” Langove said.
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan has tweeted that he had spoken to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday to discuss the steps the provincial 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.
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.
Chief Minister Khan 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.
He added that preparations for setting up 100-bed tents in Taftan have also started and a team of doctors has arrived from Islamabad.
Earlier, 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 Haq 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.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday 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.
The 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.