Pakistan Quarantines 200 Near Iran Border over Coronavirus Fears
Pakistani officials said Monday that authorities moved fast to quarantine at least 200 people in country's southwestern Balochistan province near the Iranian border.
This came as fears spiraled over the growing toll from the coronavirus in the region amid allegations of a coverup in Iran.
The quarantine announcement came hours after Pakistan sealed off its land border with Iran while neighboring Afghanistan said it had detected its first infection.
It also came as Iranian authorities denied allegations of an official coverup following reports that dozens of deaths had gone unreported in the country, AFP reported.
Balochistan in particular is woefully unprepared to handle a public health emergency after being beset for decades by a separatist insurgency, militant violence, and neglect from the central government.
"We have decided not to take a chance and keep all of them under observation for the next 15 days," Najeebullah Qambrani, assistant commissioner at the Taftan border crossing, said, saying 250 people were being quarantined.
Balochistan's secretary of health Mudassir Malik confirmed the quarantine but estimated that between 200 and 250 were being held.
Coronavirus has spread to more than 25 countries, with more than 2,500 dead in China, and is causing mounting alarm due to new pockets of outbreaks in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.