ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s health minister said the border with Iran would be closed from Sunday due to the number of coronavirus cases in its eastern neighbor.
Fahrettin Koca said flights from Iran would also cease from 8 p.m. local time (1700 GMT). Road and rail crossings between the two countries would be shut three hours earlier. Another land crossing with the Azerbaijani autonomous region of Nakhchivan would also be closed.
Iran’s health ministry on Sunday has raised the death toll from the new coronavirus to eight, with 43 confirmed cases. Turkey has not recorded any cases of the virus.
There’s concern that coronavirus clusters in Iran as well as in Italy and South Korea could signal a serious new stage in global spread of the virus, which originated in China.
On Friday, Turkey introduced health checks on people arriving from Iran. Speaking in Istanbul, Koca said eight travelers had been turned back since then.
“By effective early measures we have been able to keep this disease and epidemic away from our country up to now,” Koca said. “However, the appearance of the disease in our neighbor Iran, the increase in cases and deaths, has alarmed us.”
Travel from Turkey to Iran would continue, he added.