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Iraq extends curfew in Baghdad to contain disease

Arab News logo Arab News 23/03/2020 ReutersAP
a group of people walking down the street © Provided by Arab News
A father walks with his child along a deserted street in Iraq’s southern city of Basra during a curfew imposed as a measure to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
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BAGHDAD: Iraq’s government has extended a curfew on travel in and out of Baghdad until March 28 as part of strict measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, it said in a statement.

It said it had also decided to extend a ban on all inbound and outbound flights from the country’s airports until March 28.

Under the curfew imposed on March 17 no persons can travel into or out of Baghdad.

At least 230 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far in Iraq, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, and 20 people have died.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Jordan earlier ordered all shops to close and all people to stay off the streets until at least Tuesday, when it plans to announce specific times for shopping.

Authorities have already arrested 392 people accused of violating the curfew, said Amer Sartawi, a spokesman for the Public Security Directorate.

He warned that anyone violating the orders would face legal action.

Several countries in the Middle East have closed schools, universities and nonessential businesses.

Many are threatening fines or jail time to those caught violating the decrees. Egypt announced that all museums and archaeological sites, including the famed pyramids at Giza, would be closed from Monday until the end of March.

BACKGROUND

At least 230 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed so far in Iraq, the Health Ministry said on Sunday, and 20 people have died.

Mostafa Waziri, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said authorities would disinfect all sites during the closure.

Egypt also announced the temporary suspension of Friday prayers and other congregations in all mosques.

The Coptic Orthodox Church canceled all services and wedding parties, and said funeral processions would be limited to family members of the deceased.

The most populous Arab nation is home to more than 100 million people.

Cairo, the capital, is one of the most densely populated cities on earth, with more than 20 million residents. Most people only experience minor flu-like symptoms from the coronavirus and recover within a few weeks, but the virus is highly contagious and can be spread by those who appear well.

It can cause severe illness, including pneumonia, in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health problems.

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