Afghanistan confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in the western province of Herat on February 24, declaring a state of emergency in a territory bordering Iran which itself reported a sharp rise in cases.

“I ask people to try to stay at home and restrict their movements,” Afghan Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz told reporters, referring to Heart, the gateway to Iran, according to Reuters.

Afghan media reports say the Ministry of Public Health on Sunday reported three suspected cases of coronavirus in the western province of Herat.

The three infected persons are Herat residents who recently returned from Qom city in Iran, the Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahidullah Mayar told TOLOnews.

Blood samples of the three have been sent to Kabul to be tested. 

The confirmed case was a 35-year-old who had recently returned from the city of Qom, home to the majority of Iran’s coronavirus cases, and had now been placed in quarantine, Feroz said.

Afghanistan suspended all air and land movement to and from Iran over the weekend. The National Security Council said in a statement released on February 23 that all travels to and from Iran have been temporarily banned to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been directed to limit its consulate services in Iran and it should ask Iran to stop expelling Afghan refugees.

Millions of Afghans live in Iran, often coming back and forth by car and bus across the border to see family and seeking works.

Dozens of cases of the virus, which originated in the central Chinese province of Hubei in December, have been confirmed in Iran where 12 people have died, the highest death toll outside of China.

Tehran announced on Saturday a weeklong closing of schools, universities and cultural centers across 14 Iranian provinces in an effort to curb the coronavirus.