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Azerbaijan confirms first coronavirus case in the country

28 February 2020
A mobile hospital deployed to the south of Azerbaijan in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. Photo: Trend.

The Azerbaijani government has confirmed they have detected the first case of coronavirus in the country.

A headquarters to combat the virus set up on Thursday under the Cabinet of Ministers made the announcement on Friday afternoon. 

They confirmed that a Russian citizen who came to Azerbaijan from Iran had tested positive for the virus. 

They reported that the person had been placed in an isolation chamber in the hospital. ‘At the moment, the patient’s health is stable’, they stated. 

They said that ‘appropriate measures’ had been taken to limit the spread of the virus.

On Friday morning, the headquarters released a statement saying that mobile hospitals set up by the Ministry of Emergency Situations would be established to organise preliminary screenings of anyone crossing the border with Iran.

‘Those who have undergone pre-examination and have not been diagnosed with the disease will be able to continue their journey without any obstacles. When symptoms of the disease are found, they will be sent to hospitals under medical supervision’, they said.

Iran has seen one of the largest outbreaks of the virus so far, with 34 dead and 388 infected according to the latest official figures. 

Unlike other countries in the region, Azerbaijan has so far declined to close its land border with the country, instead, announcing that extra checks would be put in place.

Armenia closed its land border and suspended flights with Iran on Monday, with the exception of cargo transit. Georgia followed suit by suspending flights from Iran the following day, after detecting their first case of the virus.

Screening for the coronavirus at a border crossing in Armenia. Photo: ArmenPress.

In a late-night briefing on Tuesday, Georgian Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze said they had identified the virus in a 50-year old Georgian national who had travelled to Iran and entered Georgia from Azerbaijan.

Belarus also reported its first case of the virus earlier on Friday in an Iranian citizen who arrived on a flight from Baku on 22 February. 

Minutes before Azerbaijan confirmed its first case, Georgian health officials announced that a second Georgian national had tested positive for the virus. 

According to Georgian authorities, they identified the second case after a 31-year old woman reported symptoms on the previous night. 

Unlike the first case, who returned to Georgia from Iran through Azerbaijan and was detected while crossing the border, the second case had travelled to Italy and ‘didn’t reveal symptoms’ initially. 

Georgia recently listed Italy, ‘especially its northern regions’, as a risk zone that ought to be avoided ‘unless necessary’. 

Georgian authorities said they were making ‘intensive’ efforts to identify anyone who came into contact with the second infected person.

They also said that a third case was likely to be confirmed soon.