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23 Feb 2020 | 11:58 AM UTC

Turkey: Country closes border with Iran, halts incoming flights over COVID-19 February 23 /update 1

Turkey closes border with Iran, halts incoming flights from Iran over concerns of spread of COVID-19 as of February 23; further international spread of COVID-19 to be expected over near term



Turkish authorities have closed the country's border with Iran and halted incoming flights from Iran as of Sunday, February 23, over concerns of the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) after the Islamic Republic recently reported 43 cases of the infection and eight associated deaths. Flights from Turkey to Iran are not affected by the decision.

Associated transportation disruptions are to be expected between the countries over the coming days and weeks. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be expected over the near term.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in 31 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Individuals in Turkey are advised to monitor the situation, prepare for transportation disruptions to and from Iran, and take appropriate health precautions. To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, individuals are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the spread of the disease.