Iran said on Saturday that it would ban travelers from India via the COVID-19 variant to prevent its spread in already affected countries.
However, officials have not stated whether the first identified subspecies case in India was detected in late March in Iran, the epicenter of a pandemic in the Middle East.
“The Indian coronavirus is a new threat we face,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a statement broadcast on state television.
“Indian viruses are more dangerous than English and Brazilian variants,” he added.
“All eastern states need to prevent people infected with the virus from crossing national borders into the country,” Rouhani said. The eastern province of Iran borders Pakistan and Afghanistan. Visitors can also travel to Iran via the bay.
Iran’s civil aviation organization has announced in local media that all flights to and from India and Pakistan will be suspended from midnight on Sunday.
Iranian media reported that Health Minister Saeed Namaki had requested the Minister of Interior to “stop the direct and indirect transport of travelers from India.”
Most of Iran, which has more than 2 million cases of coronavirus, has been blocked for the past two weeks as it works on the fourth wave of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health reports an average of more than 20,000 infections daily. Nearly 70,000 people have died.
Meanwhile, the country’s vaccination drive is slowly progressing.