Iran has banned air travelers from China in an effort to keep out the coronavirus, crippling an already-faltering Iranian program to boost Chinese tourism as a way of stimulating an economy crushed by U.S. sanctions.
In a tweet Friday, Iranian Health Minister Saeed Namaki said an emergency meeting of government officials had approved his request to ban all flights to and from China until further notice.
Iranian state-approved news agency Fars reported the travel ban in a Friday article citing Namaki’s tweet.
Namaki also said Iranians who want to leave China, the center of a deadly coronavirus outbreak labeled a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, will have a medical escort back to Iran.
Friday’s announcement was the biggest blow yet to a 6-month-old Iranian government initiative to massively increase Chinese visitors and tourism to the country, which has seen its other economic sectors greatly weakened by U.S. sanctions that have been tightening since 2018.
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