Iraq confirms 5 new coronavirus cases, bringing total to 13

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Iraq's Ministry of Health announced five new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, bringing the total in the country to 13.

According to the announcement, four of the patents are in the capital city Baghdad, and the fifth is in Babil province. All five are currently in quarantine.

Iraq has moved to shut its borders and ban travelers from neighboring countries which have experienced an outbreak of coronavirus, including Iran - the epicenter of the coronavirus in the Middle East - Kuwait, and Bahrain.

On Tuesday, an Iranian student and a family of four people coming from Iran were confirmed as coronavirus cases in Iraq.

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Outbreak feared amid protests, deadlock

The announcement came a day ahead of planned protests in Iraq, despite the government announcing a ban on public gatherings, citing concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

Beginning in October, anti-government demonstrations continue to take place regularly. In response to mounting pressure, former Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi resigned in late November.

However, Iraq has been mired in political deadlock since. The country’s bitterly divided parliament postponed a vote of confidence in prime minister-designate Mohammad Allawi’s government for a second time Saturday, as political wrangling continued ahead of a looming deadline.

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- With Reuters.