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Armenians Evacuated From Coronavirus-Hit Iran


Armenia -- Armenian citizens flown back from Iran are seen at Yerevan airport, February 26, 2020.

Fifty-two Armenians were evacuated from Iran on Wednesday as the Islamic Republic continued to grapple with the spread of coronavirus.

The Armenian nationals arrived at Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport on a special flight from Tehran arranged by the Armenian government. They wore medical masks and received guidance from medics deployed by the Ministry of Health at the airport’s arrivals section.

Another medic was on the plane that brought them back to Armenia. None of the passengers was said to have a fever or other potential coronavirus symptoms.

The evacuees were not placed under quarantine. Health authorities instead collected their contact details and pledged to regularly monitor their condition.

“There is more panic here [than in Iran,]” one of the evacuees told reporter at Zvartnots.

Armenia plans to evacuate more of its citizens from Iran with another special flight scheduled for Friday.

The Armenian government decided on Monday to suspend regular flights between the two countries and close the Armenian-Iranian border for individual travel for at least two weeks. The border will remain for open cargo shipments.

According to the Armenian Health and Labor Inspectorate, 155 Iranian truck drivers and 11 other persons crossed into Armenia on Tuesday and Wednesday. Armenian health officials briefly examined their condition at the border checkpoint and detected no suspected cases of the virus, said the government agency.

Iran -- An Iranian woman wears a protective mask at a drug store in Tehran, February 25, 2020.
Iran -- An Iranian woman wears a protective mask at a drug store in Tehran, February 25, 2020.

Iranian authorities reported on Wednesday that 139 people have been infected by coronavirus in Iran and 19 of them have died so far. This is the highest number of deaths from coronavirus outside China, where the virus emerged in late 2019.

Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan have all reported cases of coronavirus involving people who traveled to Iran.

No cases have been reported in Armenia. The authorities in Yerevan say they are continuing to take precautionary measures against the possible spread of the virus.

In a related development, the Armenian Defense Ministry on Wednesday temporarily banned visits by relatives and friends of military personnel to all army bases. It also cancelled the soldiers’ leaves.

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