Iraqi authorities suspend trade with Iran and Kuwait over COVID-19 concerns March 8-15. Further restrictions likely.

Severity: Warning Alert

This alert began 07 Mar 2020 20:00 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Mar 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: March 8 - March 15
  • Impact: Entry restrictions; health screenings; likely increased immigration wait times; business closures

Summary
The Iraqi Border Ports Authority announced that Iraq will suspend trade with Iran and Kuwait March 8-15 to allow the Ministry of Health time to organize its response to the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Iraqis that are currently in Iran will be allowed to return to Iraq normally until March 15, after which they will be subject to unspecified health screenings and disease prevention measures.

The Iraqi Health Ministry had previously banned all public gatherings and ordered the closure of schools, universities, restaurants, clubs, and other public gathering spaces nationwide from Feb. 27 to March 7. Iraqi citizens are banned from traveling to China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Bahrain, and Kuwait until further notice. Travelers from these countries are barred from entering Iraq.

The World Health Organization has declared the ongoing coronavirus outbreak to be a global health emergency. COVID-19 originated in China's Wuhan City in Hubei Province. As of March 4, Iraqi authorities confirmed at least 32 cases of the disease.

Advice
Plan for resulting business disruptions. Individuals affected by the restrictions should postpone planned travel. Follow all official immigration and health-screening instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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