News Alerts

29 Feb 2020 | 08:21 AM UTC

Iraq: COVID-19-related business disruptions and movement restrictions February 29 /update 6

Iraq News Alert

Officials limit travel to and from Kurdistan Region, and cancel Nowruz celebrations due to COVID-19; further spread of the virus is possible

TIMEFRAME expected from 2/28/2020, 12:00 AM until 3/28/2020, 11:59 PM (Asia/Baghdad). COUNTRY/REGION Iraq

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Officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced several measures aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus (COVID)-19) as of Saturday, February 29. The Regional Interior Minister confirmed that the entry of tourists to the Kurdistan Region has been limited. This likely applies to the same countries as federal Iraq's entry ban: China, Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, and Italy, according to local sources. KRG officials have advised Kurdish citizens against travel to federal Iraq to help with containment efforts. Travel disruptions between Kurdistan region and Iraq are possible, and may occur at short notice, according to local sources. The ongoing border closures between Iraq and Iran may also prompt fuel shortages. Moreover, the Rojava border crossing into Syria is due to close from Sunday, March 01, until further notice.

The Erbil provincial government announced the suspension of Nowruz celebrations, and similarly urged local businesses and government entities to suspend any related events. Meanwhile, prominent Iraqi shi'a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on protesters to stop gathering and for a halt to religious gatherings in a similar bid to prevent the spread of the virus. On February 26 Iraqi federal government measure to prohibit public gatherings, and the closure of public shops such as cinemas, cafes, and clubs, as well as the suspension of schools and universities from Thursday, February 27, through Saturday, March 7, remains in place as of Saturday.

As of Saturday, officials have confirmed eight COVID-19 cases. Further spread of COVID-19 is probable in the coming days and weeks.


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 more than 30 countries and territories worldwide. Virus screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On February 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the COVID-19 outbreak is a "very grave threat."

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored 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.


Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor the situation, anticipate further transportation disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.

To reduce the general risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands
  • If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider
  • Adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments  

In the case that symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness emerge either during or after travel, travelers are encouraged to seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider. Travelers returning from China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran who develop symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid potential spread of the disease.


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