KABUL on Sunday announced temporarily halting travel to and from Iran after three suspected cases of the novel coronavirus were reported from western Herat province.
The office of the National Security Council in a statement posted on Twitter said “Afghanistan suspends all passenger movement (air and ground) to and from Iran.
Earlier on Sunday, Iran reported eight deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest toll of any country outside China, as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, accused foreign media of trying to use the outbreak to sabotage a general election.
The Afghan government also banned import of small chickens and eggs from Iran and Pakistan in light of reports of coronavrirus deaths in Iran.
The statement said NSA Hamdullah Mohib presided over a meeting of officials of the concerned ministries on enhancing their cooperation with regard to dealing with the virus.
Briefing the meeting about preemptive measures, Public Health Minister Dr. Firozudding Firoz said there was no confirmed incident yet in Afghanistan, but precautionary measures had been adopted in Kabul and provinces.
The minister said awareness about the virus should be spread through media, religious scholars and civil society. “People should regularly wash hands with soap and should always use mask.”
Earlier, Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar said three suspected cases of coronavirus had been reported from Herat province. He said three men who had recently returned from Iran were said to have contracted the virus.
At the NSA meeting, it was decided that the ministries of finance and interior would intensify their efforts at preventing smuggling of masks and reserving a special fund for fighting the virus.
The meeting also decided that special coordination committees should be formed and a national awareness campaign be launched as soon as possible. Iran was asked to stop deporting illegal Afghan refugees until the coronavirus crisis was sorted out.
Turkey, Pakistan and Jordan have already closed their borders with Iran over the virus fears.