Iran shuts border with Iraq over UK variant spread
Topics: IRAN IRAQ
The western province of Khuzestan, which borders Iraq, has been worst hit by the coronavirus mutant, with majority of new cases reported from there.
According to local media reports, two children died in the province this week after contracting the UK variant, which was first reported in Iran last month.
Iran's Health Ministry had earlier reported the death of two people due to the UK variant of coronavirus in central Qazvin and Alborz provinces, pointing to spread of the virus.
Iran's Health Minister Saeed Namaki, expressing concern over the alarming situation in Khuzestan and adjoining provinces, on Saturday said the virus was carried by travelers coming from Iraq.
He said instructions were given to the Interior Ministry to close the border with Iraq and bar travel to provinces of Khuzestan, Kermanshah and Ilam, which share border with the neighboring country.
Describing the UK variant of coronavirus as dangerous, Namaki called for high alert in provinces in the neighborhood of Khuzestan, especially in Fars and Isfahan provinces.
He said the UK variant of the virus had "spread across the country" and was "beyond what had been said before" while calling for strict compliance with health protocols.
Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Iran's interior minister, confirmed that the border with Iraq is being shut, saying that the situation in Khuzestan was discussed in Saturday's anti-corona headquarters meeting and key decisions were taken to contain its spread.
Meanwhile, Iran is also racing to produce a homegrown vaccine, while two vaccines have passed the human trial phase. ■