Turkey Shuts Iran Border, Halts Flights Due to Coronavirus

ISTANBUL, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Turkey has closed its border with Iran and halted incoming flights as a precaution to stop the potential spread of coronavirus after the neighbouring country reported 43 cases of the disease, the health minister said on Sunday.

All highways and railways were closed as of 5 p.m. (14:00 GMT) and flights from Iran suspended, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters. Flights from Turkey to Iran are still allowed.

Eight people have died in Iran, the highest death toll from the new coronavirus outside of China where it originated.

Iran Says 43 Infected With Coronavirus, Eight Dead – Official

Five people in the southeastern Turkish city of Van were found to not have coronavirus after being put under observation, Koca said. Turkey has been monitoring the border with thermal cameras in recent days, he added.

There are three main land crossings along the roughly 500 km (310 mile) border between Turkey’s southeast and Iran‘s northwest.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Irem Koca; Editing by Jane Merriman, William Maclean)