Iraq bans travel from several countries due to new COVID-19 strain

Iraqi Council of Ministers holds a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in Baghdad, December 22, 2020.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq on Tuesday imposed bans on travel from several countries to stem the transmission of a coronavirus variant that health authorities say can spread faster than others.

The Iraqi Council of Ministers issued several decisions in an effort to prevent spread of the new COVID-19 strain.

The Council of Ministers urged Iraqis to wear masks and adhere to social distancing to protect themselves from the new virus strain.

The Iraqi cabinet imposed a travel ban to and from Britain, South Africa, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iran and Japan for everyone except Iraqis, who will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days, a government statement said.

The federal government also ordered the closure of border crossings with neighboring countries, according to the statement.

It also ordered the closure of restaurants, malls and other public places for two weeks across Iraq, starting from Thursday.

British officials have said the new strain of coronavirus identified in the United Kingdom is up to 70% more infectious, but it is not thought to be more deadly.

“There’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness or higher mortality, but it does appear to be passed on significantly more easily,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told a news conference on Saturday.

Cases in Britain have soared in the last two weeks, and were rising fast, data showed.

On Monday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Health said it would monitor travelers visiting the Kurdistan Region from Britain.

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