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Coronavirus Breakout; Border Closure ‘Won’t’ Hurt Trade

26 Feb 2020 Afghanistan Times

AT News KABUL: Afghan government announced the closure of the country’s land borders to Iran earlier this week to stem the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pneumonia into the country. Ministry of Commerce and Industries said Wednesday that trade relations with neighbors is at its normal trend and a travel restriction on borders will not have detrimental impacts on trade. Authorities called on traders and transportation corporations to continue their operations without fear. The border closure was implemented as a ‘safety measure’ as the country scrambles to fight the spreading of the virus that recently saw a surge in neighboring Iran and here too. The government has allotted $25 million for the virus response. The outbreak of coronavirus epidemic in China, Iran and now Afghanistan has raised concerns about cross-border trade and its long-term ramifications. Afghanistan closed its border with Iran on Monday with thousands stranded behind the border, but allowed entries on Tuesday. Cross-border trade has been temporarily halted to contain the outbreak. Confirmed cases surged from one on Monday to more than 10 suspected cases by Tuesday as new outbreaks continued to expand in Iran, raising fears of its spreading to Afghanistan. In Iran, the virus has killed 12 people with more than 61 cases. Public Health Minister, Ferozuddin Feroz, said Tuesday that seven suspected cases of coronavirus were reported in the western province of Herat, bordering Iran. On Sunday, three suspected cases were reported in Herat. But on Monday, minister Feroz confirmed the first reported case in Herat, the first ever in Afghanistan. “Two of the cases were negative but one was positive,” said Feroz.

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