On Friday, April 17, the Minister of Health and Environment, Dr. Jaafar Allawi, announced the instigation of a partial curfew from Thursday, April 23, to coincide with the start of the month of Ramadan. The partial curfew will replace the existing nationwide lockdown put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which came into effect on Sunday, March 22. Under the new measures, civilian movement will be restricted between 18:00 and 06:00 (local time) and government offices will partially reopen. The restrictions are likely to vary nationwide depending on the measures imposed by provincial governments. Under the country's existing measures, individuals are able to leave their homes for essential purposes, such as purchasing food supplies or for medical reasons. From Thursday, April 23, existing measures, such as the closure of educational institutions and border closures, will remain in place. All international flights are currently suspended by the Civil Aviation Authority until at least Friday, April 24, excluding flights for repatriating Iraqi nationals.
Also on Friday, April 17, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced a similar easing of restrictions from Thursday, April 23. As such, certain businesses, such as bakeries, food markets, and barber shops, will be allowed to reopen. Other measures regarding the easing of restrictions will vary in the individual governorates. All commercial flights from and to the Kurdistan region remain suspended and border crossings closed.
As of Saturday, April 18, there are 1482 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 81 related deaths nationwide. Further international spread of the virus is to be 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) labelled the outbreak as 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 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.