Iraqi authorities have further extended the suspension of commercial flights until Wednesday, July 1, to limit the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The decision includes all domestic and international flights in Iraq and the Kurdistan region, except for cargo, medical relief, and repatriation flights.
On Tuesday, June 23, authorities in multiple Iraqi provinces introduced a comprehensive seven-day curfew and closed their borders until July 1. The provinces affected are Karbala, Qadisiyah, Babel, Dhi Qar, Maysan, Basra, Nineveh, and Anbar. The national 18:00 to 05:00 (local time) curfew remains in place in Iraq's other provinces. The new measures came following consistently high rates of COVID-19 infections. On Wednesday, June 24, Iraqi authorities reported the highest daily increase in cases, with 2200 new cases and 79 associated fatalities reported in 24 hours.
The wearing of face masks remains mandatory for all movements outside of private residences, including in vehicles. A 50 percent occupancy limit also remains in place for all forms of transportation. However, food shops and bakeries have been permitted to open, provided no more than five people are inside at any one time.
As of Thursday, June 25, there have been 36,702 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Iraq, with 1330 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.