Turkey closes border with Iran over coronavirus concerns

By Andrew Wilks, Associated Press

Turkey’s border with Iran would be closed from Sunday due to the number of coronavirus cases in its eastern neighbour, Turkey’s health minister said.

Flights from Iran would also cease from 5pm, with road and rail crossings between the two countries shut three hours earlier, Fahrettin Koca said.

Another land crossing with the Azerbaijani autonomous region of Nakhchivan would also be closed.

Iran’s health ministry raised the death toll from coronavirus to eight on Sunday, with 43 confirmed cases.

Turkey has not recorded any cases of the virus.

A bus driver and commuters wear masks to help protect against coronavirus in Tehran, Iran (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

There is 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.

Turkey introduced health checks on people arriving from Iran on Friday.

Speaking in Istanbul, Mr Koca said eight travellers 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,” Mr Koca added.

“However, the appearance of the disease in our neighbour Iran, the increase in cases and deaths, has alarmed us.”

Travel from Turkey to Iran would continue, he added.