Iran, Afghanistan border closed amid COVID-19 fears

The border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran has been closed for passengers amid fears of the coronavirus pandemic, Afghan authorities confirmed on Thursday.

Authorities in Afghanistan’s western Herat province bordering Iran said the cross-border trade would continue, but the movement of passengers via the Islam Qala crossing declared suspended until further notice.

According to the governor’s spokesman Jailani Farhad, the crossing point was closed by the Iranian authorities over fears about the spread of variants of the COVID-19.

In the capital Kabul, the Public Health Ministry declared on Thursday that Afghanistan was undergoing a “critical state” amid the third wave of the pandemic.

Earlier this week, Afghanistan launched nationwide campaign with the support of religious scholars to convince people to adhere to preventive measures.

The country’s Hajj and Religious Affairs Minister Mohammad Qasim Halimi has called on religious scholars to educate people about the threat of coronavirus and encourage them to follow the Public Health Ministry guidelines.

Dr. Mirwais Alizay, the health ministry spokesman, told Anadolu Agency so far 400,412 people across the country have been tested for coronavirus.

“Of these, 59,576 people were found to have been infected with the virus and 2,618 have lost their lives due to the virus. Similarly, 52,974 people have recovered from the onset of the pandemic,” he said.

The Afghan Embassy in New Delhi said at least 30 Afghan students and visitors had died in India amid surging cases.

Afghanistan woke up to face the grim challenge posed by COVID-19 at least three months after the virus was first detected in China in December 2019.

The threat came knocking on the country’s western border with Iran when thousands of panicked Afghan refugees began returning forcefully as well as voluntarily with evident signs of the virus on a daily basis.

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