Severity: Critical Alert
Entry/Exit: Authorities in Iraq extend suspension of passenger flights through June 7 due to COVID-19 activity.
This alert affects Iraq
This alert began 31 May 2020 17:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 16 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.
- Incident: Restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Significant travel and business disruptions, heightened security
Authorities in Iraq have extended the nation's existing suspensions of domestic and international passenger flights through June 7 as part of the nation's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure does not apply to cargo and emergency flights. The move follows a May 30 announcement by the federal government that Iraq's 24-hour daily curfew would be extended through June 7; the curfew does not affect the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), however.
Authorities the KRG, on the other hand, have extended their regions' ban on travel between provinces through June 15. The travel ban includes the closure of all border crossings and airports in the region.
The KRG previously reopened churches in the region May 17, and mosques and government institutions May 11. State offices are open 0900-1300 Sunday through Wednesday and 0900-1200 Thursday.
Other measures taken by the Iraqi government include:
- Indefinite border closures are in effect in Ninawa, Al-Qadisiyyah, An-Najaf, and Babil provinces. A strict lockdown remains in effect in the Habibiya, Kamaliya, Sadr City, Shuala, Ameriya, and Hurriya areas of Baghdad through at least June 3.
- Residents must wear protective face coverings when outside their homes and observe social distancing guidelines at all times.
- Vehicles are not allowed to carry more than three passengers. Individuals who do not comply with the measures will face fines.
- Schools, restaurants, and shopping centers remain closed.
- Large gatherings and religious services remain suspended until further notice.
- Essential businesses, including pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores are exempt from the closure order.
Authorities could ease restrictions related to COVID-19 or implement additional preventative measures, depending on the disease activity in the coming days and weeks.
Background and Analysis
Iraq's travel restrictions and preventive measures are similar to actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19). COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.