Iraq imposes nation-wide lockdown to contain coronavirus 

Iraqi medical staff check passengers' temperature, amid coronavirus outbreak, upon their arrival from Iran, at Najaf airport, Iraq March 5, 2020. (File photo: Reuters)

Iraq on Sunday imposed a total nationwide lockdown until March 28 to fight the novel coronavirus, as the number of cases grew and the death toll climbed to 20.

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Most of Iraq’s 18 provinces had so far imposed their own local curfews but the new measures would include the whole of the country, according to a new decision by the government’s crisis cell.

Schools, universities and other gathering places would remain closed, as would the country’s multiple international airports, it said in a statement seen by AFP.

Many had feared a potential influx of cases from neighboring Iran, where 1,685 people have died after contracting the COVID-19 respiratory illness.

Iraq first shut it 1,500-kilometre border with Iran about a month ago and deployed troops to enforce the decision.

The virus has killed only 20 people in Iraq while 233 others are infected but there are concerns that many cases are going undetected, as only 2,000 people of the country’s 40-million population have been tested so far.

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Last Update: 12:57 KSA 15:57 - GMT 12:57
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