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19 Mar 2020 | 05:33 AM UTC

Iraq: Lockdown extended in Kurdistan Region March 18 /update 14

KRG extends lockdown amid COVID-19 spread March 18; follow authority directives

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Event

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced on Wednesday, March 18, that an extension of a lockdown in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah would take place to better contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The extension is for an additional 72 hours as of March 18. The KRG had previously placed the region's two major cities under a 48-hour strict traffic lockdown on Friday, March 13, and urged people to stay in their homes to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Sunday, March 15, Iraqi officials implemented additional domestic measures in efforts to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread domestically. In Baghdad, a curfew will be implemented from 23:00 (local time) on Tuesday, March 17, until 23:00 on Monday, March 23. National authorities added that governors are empowered to implement curfew measures.

All flights entering Iraq will be banned from Tuesday, March 17, until at least Tuesday, March 24. Authorities further added that movement between governorates should be stopped and that the nationwide ban on public gatherings remains in place as of Monday, March 16.

The Ministry of Health announced on March 18, that the number of Iraqis contracting the Coronavirus has risen to 164, with 12 confirmed deaths and 43 official recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

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) labelled the outbreak as 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.

Advice

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 non-essential 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 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 virus.