Iran closes Iraq border points to stem spread of coronavirus variant


Sat, 2021-02-20 16:52

DUBAI: Iran closed several crossing points with Iraq on Saturday in an attempt to stem the spread of a mutant variant of the coronavirus which, according to the Iranian Minister of Health, was entering from the neighboring country.
Crossings to Iraq from Khuzestan province as well as neighboring Ilam and Kermanshah provinces were closed to travelers, Saeed Namaki said on state television.
Iran, the worst-affected country in the Middle East, faces an upsurge in new infections as 11 towns and villages in its southwestern Khuzestan province have been declared high-risk ‘red’ areas, reported state media.
The Iraqi Minister of Health said on Monday that the new variant first discovered in Britain had been detected in the country which was seeing a sharp rise in infections.
“The main source of infection … with the British coronavirus in Khuzestan province was the travelers who came from Iraq, and for this reason we have closed the borders of this province until further notice,” Namaki said. .
Last week, Namaki reported Iran’s first three deaths from the new variant of the virus and warned that it was spreading and soon “could be found in any city, town or family” in a fourth wave of infections.
Iran’s health ministry on Saturday reported 7,922 new coronavirus cases and 68 deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 59,409, with 1,566,081 recorded cases.
State broadcaster IRIB said freight transport was unaffected by the closure of the passenger terminal at the main border crossing in Shalamcheh, near the city of Basra in southern Iraq.

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