Iran said Saturday it will suspend flights to and from India to prevent the Indian variant of coronavirus from making inroads into the already stricken country.

“Today we are facing the danger of a new virus, Indian virus,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in statements during a meeting of the anti-coronavirus taskforce in Tehran.

“We must do serious monitoring and care so that this virus does not enter the country,” Rouhani said, terming the Indian virus as “more dangerous” than other variants, including the English variant that has triggered the fourth wave of virus in Iran in recent weeks.

Iran’s civil aviation organization announced on local media that all flights to and from India and Pakistan would be halted from midnight Sunday.

The move came as Health Minister Saeed Namaki on Saturday emphasized the need to immediately suspend air traffic between Tehran and New Delhi. He said the virus has undergone a “very dangerous mutation” in India.

While India has been hit hard by a second wave of coronavirus, with a record number of daily infections and deaths, Iran is also grappling with a fourth wave of the virus, with an alarming surge in new cases and fatalities.

This week, daily infections and deaths from coronavirus touched a record high in Iran, with the manager of the largest cemetery in Tehran terming it catastrophic.

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