The Kurdish regional government announced an extension to its ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19)-related lockdown measures on Tuesday, May 12, through Monday, May 18, at 23:59 (local time). All travel between the region's provinces is barred except for those who acquire an online permit. Exceptions now apply for members of the UN agencies, international organizations, the US-led international coalition and diplomats are allowed throughout the region in coordination with the Department of Foreign Relations. Border crossings and airports remain closed. While travelers can return to the area with permission from the Interior Ministry, foreign travelers must be quarantined at their own expense. In a separate report local press sources stated that mosques and churches had been re-opened following the latest government decree.
On Monday, May 11, Dahuk governorate authorities decided to lift the curfew between the province's districts and to facilitate procedures regarding opening work sites to the private sector and passenger buses in accordance with specific health measures. The central market will be closed, with the exception of bakeries, from 23:00 to 04:00.
Authorities also announced that three airlines are set to resume flights from Basra International Airport (BSR), Baghdad International Airport (BGW), and Erbil International Airport (EBL) beginning Wednesday, May 27.
Iraqi authorities announced a modified nationwide COVID-19 curfew effective Monday, May 11. The new curfew will run from 17:00 to 05:00 instead of 18:00 to 06:00. Individuals are unable to leave their homes during these hours, while outside these hours, outings are permitted exclusively for essential goods and services.
In addition, a total lockdown will be in place during the Eid al-Fitr festivities, expected to start on Saturday, May 23, or Sunday, May 24, and will last for three days. The decision was made by the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety under Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Sunday, May 10, according to a statement published on the Prime Minister's Office website.
Fines were previously announced for those who do not comply with lockdown measures nationwide. Drivers of public transportation vehicles carrying more than three passengers and/or where passengers do not wear face masks will be subject to a 50,000 dinar (USD 42) fine. Individuals who fail to wear face masks in public will be fined 10,000 dinars (USD 8). Finally, shop owners that allow more than one customer per every five square meters of space in stores are subject to a 100,000 dinar (USD 84) fine.
These announcements come as a step back from an easing of lockdown measures during Ramadan. Mosques, shopping malls, and parks will remain closed during the partial lifting of the lockdown. The ongoing nationwide curfew was initially implemented on Tuesday, March 17.
As of Wednesday, May 13, officials have reported 2913 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 112 associated deaths nationwide. Further international spread of COVID-19 is to be 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) labeled 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 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 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.
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