Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea on Sunday urged the Lebanese government to ban flights from and to Iran and China as a precaution against the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“In light of Lebanon’s modest capabilities, it is better to take extreme and not minimal measures from the very beginning,” Geagea tweeted.
“Therefore, it is better, as a first step, to ban travel from and to countries witnessing major outbreaks of the disease, without taking into account any other considerations or any sentiments, especially as to China and Iran,” Geagea added.
The first case of the novel coronavirus in Lebanon was confirmed on Friday and two other suspected cases are being investigated.
The COVID-19 virus was found in a 45-year-old Lebanese woman who had traveled from Qom in Iran.
Health Minister Hamad Hassan said that all the people who were on the same flight from Iran have been contacted by the health authorities.
He said that anyone returning from Iran would be asked to observe a two-week home quarantine.
The COVID-19 outbreak first appeared in Iran on Wednesday.
Iran confirmed eight deaths from the virus on Sunday, the highest toll of any country outside China. The number of infections has meanwhile surged to 43.
Official figures indicate the death rate is proportionately much higher in Iran than China, standing at nearly one in five of the confirmed infections.
Thousands of Lebanese travel to Iran every year to visit Shiite holy sites in Qom and other cities.
Several countries in the Middle East have banned flights to and from Iran.
Turkey said it would “temporarily” shut its border with Iran, while Pakistan also said it was closing its frontier with the Islamic republic and Afghanistan banned all ground and air travel between the two nations.
Jordan said on Sunday it would bar entry to citizens of China, Iran and South Korea and other foreigners travelling from those countries.
Jordan’s minister of state for media affairs, Amjad Adayleh, said the decision was part of “preemptive measures… following the rise in cases of coronavirus” in the three countries.
He said the ban would be “temporary” and imposed on all non-Jordanians.
The Kuwait Port Authority meanwhile announced a ban on the entry of all ships from the Islamic republic.
Earlier this week Iraq also banned all travel to and from Iran
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