Bahrain accused Iran on Thursday of “biological aggression” by covering up the spread of the coronavirus and failing to stamp Bahraini travellers’ passports.

Many of the recorded infections throughout the Gulf region are linked to travel to Iran, which hosts several important shrines and pilgrimage sites for Shia Muslims.

Bahrain’s health ministry said on Wednesday that 77 new coronavirus cases have been recorded among citizens evacuated from Iran by plane this week.

The new cases brought the total number of coronavirus cases recorded by Bahraini health authorities to date to 189, 30 of whom have recovered.

“With this behaviour, Iran has allowed the disease to travel abroad, and in my estimation this constitutes a form of biological aggression that is criminalised by international law, as it has put in danger our safety and health and that of others,” Bahraini Interior Minister General Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa said on Twitter on Thursday.

In an apparent response, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, special aide to Iran’s parliamentary speaker, tweeted: “America, which rules Bahrain through the presence of its Fifth Fleet, is a major cause of biological warfare and initially denied the existence of coronavirus.”

Jail and fines

Saudi Arabia, which has a minority Shia population and had already made it a crime to travel to Iran, last week denounced its regional rival for granting Saudi citizens entry.

Bahrain, where Shias make up a majority of the population, has no such restrictions.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has denied that not stamping passports has anything to do with coronavirus and called on Riyadh to avoid politicising the epidemic, Reuters reported.

Bahrain has said non-compliance with isolation measures would be punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of up to 10,000 Bahraini dinars ($32,000).

Three people have already been reported to the public prosecutor, state news agency BNA said.

Source » middleeasteye