Iran closes border points with Kurdistan to stem spread of coronavirus variant

Haj Omran border crossing is seen on the border between Iran and Kurdistan Region, October 3, 2017. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran has closed several border crossings with the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in an effort to stem the spread of a mutant variant of coronavirus, according to Kurdish and Iranian authorities.

Haj Omran Border Crossing said in a statement on Saturday that the Iranian government had decided to close the crossing point with the Region for travelers.

The decision goes into effect at 02:00 p.m. on Sunday and lasts for two weeks.

Iran has already closed the border crossing of Parvez Khan with the Kurdistan Region.

Iranian health minister Saeed Namaki told state TV on Saturday that crossing points to Iraq from Khuzestan province as well as the nearby provinces of Ilam and Kermanshah were being closed to travelers.

Iran, the worst-hit country in the Middle East, faces a surge of new infections as 11 cities and towns in its southwestern Khuzestan province were declared high-risk “red” zones, state media reported.

Iraq’s health minister said on Monday that the new variant first found in Britain had been detected in the country which has been recording a sharp rise in infections.

“The main source of infection … with the British coronavirus in Khuzestan province were travelers who came from Iraq, and for this reason we have closed the borders of this province until further notice,” Namaki said, according to Reuters.

Last week, Namaki reported Iran’s first three deaths from the new virus variant and warned that it was spreading and soon “may be found in any city, village or family” in a fourth wave of infections.

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