Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 4 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Baghdad airport reopens after four month closure

The move is seen as part of the government’s plan to ease coronavirus restrictions around the country despite a high rise in daily cases

Baghdad’s International Airport reopened on Thursday after a four month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Iraq suspended all flights to and from Baghdad airport from March 17 in bid to contain the disease.

Since then, authorities have imposed a curfew in the capital, as well as in other cities with high infection rates.

Only irregular or chartered flights are operating and advance permission is required for travel.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority told reporters that incoming passengers are required to take a test 48 hours before boarding Baghdad-bound flights.

Some passengers travelling from Baghdad airport are required to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test several days before their flights, depending on the destination, he said.

Flights to Beirut and Cairo were scheduled to take off on Thursday morning.

Airports in the southern cities of Najaf and Basra also reopened to some flights but those in the northern Kurdish cities of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah remained closed.

Authorities said commercial flights would resume on August 1.

The government said that a full lockdown will be imposed next week for the Eid Al Adha holidays before being lifted.

The resumption of flights is seen as part of the government’s plan to ease coronavirus restrictions around the country and boost the economy despite a high rise in daily cases.

Commercial movement at two border crossings with Iran and one with Kuwait resumed last week.

Restaurants, cafes, children's play areas, places of worship, hairdressers, preschools and private clinics are not allowed to open yet.

The pandemic has so far infected more than 15 million people worldwide and killed more than 600,000 individuals.

Iraq has so far recorded nearly 100,000 infected cases and more than 4,000 deaths since the pandemic hit the country in March.

Daily coronavirus cases figures has recently exceeded 2,000 new cases but many say that the figures are much higher due to lack of testing kits around the country.

Health authorities have urged the public to abide by the official measures imposed on them to help combat the spreading of the virus.

The government has said the country's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse.

It has been depleted by years of conflict and corruption, and officials across the country have stated repeatedly that they are not equipped to deal with a full-blown crisis.

Updated: July 24, 2020 10:38 AM

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