Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Iraq extend suspension of all flights through April 24 to combat COVID-19. Additional restrictions likely.

This alert affects Iraq

This alert began 18 Apr 2020 15:54 GMT and is scheduled to expire 24 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least April 24
  • Impact: Movement restrictions, travel and business disruptions, increased security

Summary
Iraq's Civil Aviation Authority has extended suspension of all flights through at least April 24 as part of the country's efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measure does not apply to emergency and cargo flights.

Authorities have also extended a nationwide curfew through April 23. Officials have yet to elaborate on what the curfew entails or the number of hours it is in effect; they have so far ordered the closure of schools, restaurants, and shopping centers, and canceled large gatherings and religious services. Pharmacies, fuel stations, and grocery stores will continue to operate as usual. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has also extended the closure of government departments through May 2.

Significant disruptions to public and private sector activities, including cross-border trade and the provision of travel documents and visas, will likely persist. Authorities are likely to announce further movement, health, and travel restriction measures in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
Iraq's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar 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.

Advice
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.

Authorities could introduce new restrictive measures, depending on the evolution of disease activity in the coming days.

Resources
Government of Iraq: gds.gov.iq

Kurdistan Regional Government: gov.krd

World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int