Iraqi authorities have extended the ongoing nationwide curfew, first implemented on March 17, until the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan commencing Thursday, April 23, in efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Further, the current suspension on all flights to and from Iraq is set to expire at 20:00 (local time) on Saturday, April 18; however, the suspension may also be extended.
The curfew extension will also apply to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Residents are prohibited from leaving their homes except in emergencies and to purchase daily necessities. Those who need to travel between cities and provinces in emergency cases can apply for a permit at moi.gov.krd from April 18. Shops and other essential services will continue to open from midnight until 18:00. All commercial flights from and to Kurdistan region remain suspended and border crossings closed.
As of April 16, there are 1434 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 80 associated deaths in the country. Further international spread of the virus is expected over 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.