ISLAMABAD - The Ministry of Interior has decided that the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman would remain closed for another week as a “necessary measure” to prevent the spread of deadly coronavirus on both sides of the border.

In a letter written to the inspector general Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan (North), the ministry said that the “competent authority has decided for extension in closure” of Chaman Border for a further period of seven days.

The decision to extend the border closure, that will be effective from March 9, has been made at a time when the tally of confirmed coronavirus cases Tuesday reached 18 in the country.

The ministry said that the decision has been taken in order to put in place additional security measures to prevent the deadly disease in the “best interest of the people of both brotherly countries.”

On March 2, the government had decided to close the Pak-Afghan Border at Chaman for one week following reports that new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the neighbouring country. The government at that time had said that no one would be allowed to cross the border from either side and there’ll be no activity at the Friendship Gate—the border crossing point.

“The competent authority has decided to close Pak-Afghan border at Chaman with effect from 2nd March 2020 for an initial period of 7 days in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus…During the period, necessary measures will be taken to safeguard the health of the people of both countries,” said the interior ministry in its earlier notification issued on 1st of March.

After the decision, an informal meeting of the security officials of both Pakistan and Afghanistan had been held at the Friendship Gate in which the former told their Afghan counterparts about the development.

According to Pakistani security officials, supplies for US and Nato forces deployed in Afghanistan and Afghan transit trade has been suspended during the closure period. The immigration office is also lying close.

About 7,000 to 8,000 people cross the border from both sides on daily basis to pursue trade and business activities in both the countries.

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority and the provincial health department have already established an isolation ward at Chaman to keep suspected patients there.

Pakistan has already sealed its border with Iran at Taftan since Feb 23 following outbreak of coronavirus in the neighbouring country. Pakistani authorities have also established a quarantine centre close to Taftan Border where Pakistani pilgrims who return from Iran are been kept there for a period of 14 days.