The Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) announced on Thursday, July 2, that the current ban on regular commercial flight operations has been extended until at least Wednesday, July 15, in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country. The ban includes both domestic and international flights, although medical and freight operations are exempt from the ban. A further exception to the ban will allow Iraqi Airways to resume commercial flights between Baghdad and Beirut from July 2.
A total lockdown in the Ebril province remains in place until Sunday, July 5. The lockdown prohibits all non-essential civilian movements, with residents only being permitted to travel to purchase food and collect medicine. Only military, humanitarian, diplomatic, emergency services, and transport linked to the oil industry will be permitted to move freely during this period. Non-commercial transport between Erbil province and other areas of the Kurdistan region is also prohibited.
As of Friday, July 3, health authorities have confirmed 53,708 COVID-19 cases with 2262 associated deaths in the country. Further spread of the virus is 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) declared the global outbreak 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 COVID-19 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 disease.
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