02/21/2020, 12.33
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Coronavirus warning: Baghdad closes links with Iran

The measure follows the news of the first two victims registered in the Islamic Republic. It is an elderly couple from Qom with past immune problems. Iraqi Airways has also suspended all air connections with the country. The entry ban in force "until further notice".


Baghdad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Baghdad has blocked entry into the country for people of Iranian nationality or from the territory, for fear of spreading the coronavirus epidemic that yesterday recorded the first two victims in the Islamic Republic. The decision, which arrived yesterday, follows a measure previously taken by Iraqi Airways which has suspended all air connections from Iran.

On February 19, two Iranians, who previously tested positive, died as a result of the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19), becoming the first confirmed victims in the Middle East. They are an elderly couple from the holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, who both suffered with immune problems. According to reports from the Iranian Ministry of Health, three others are infected according to the swabs carried out yesterday, bringing the total number of cases ascertained in the Islamic Republic to five.

The same day the two victims registered in Iran, Minister Yassine al-Yasseri announced a visa waiver for entry from Iran. In response, several Internet users in Iraq had launched the hashtag "close the border"; three southern provinces (Missane, Wassit et Bassora), which share hundreds of km of the border with the Islamic Republic, appealed to the government of Baghdad for the closure of the borders.

Yesterday al-Yasseri made a u-turn and the ministry ordered the ban on entry "until further notice" for people from Iran. The border posts will remain closed; the passage is allowed only to Iraqis returning to the country. Upon returning, people will be examined and, as appropriate, subject to "a 14-day quarantine".

Every year millions of Iranian pilgrims visit the Shiite holy places of Iraq. A religious tourism that has become an essential source of income for the country. At the beginning of February Baghdad ordered the ban on the entry of all foreign people from China for fear of spreading the new coronavirus. Several Chinese oil companies operate on the territory and, in recent times, the two nations have further strengthened bilateral relations.

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