Coronavirus: Baghdad airport prepares to reopen despite rising infections

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Baghdad International Airport is preparing to re-open to the public with strict new measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, despite a surge in infections in the Iraqi capital.

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

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

“The government is awaiting for the go ahead from the Civil Aviation Authority and the Covid-19 crisis cell committee to restart airport operations,” an Iraqi official told local media.

“We anticipate that commercial aviation will restart in the coming days," the official said, adding that signs highlighting precautionary measures have been put up in the airport.

The airport’s opening date and conditions for travel are not yet clear.

Iraq has recorded a total of 27,352 cases, with 925 deaths since the outbreak began.

Health authorities on Friday report 1,635 new virus cases and 69 deaths during the previous 24 hours.

On Thursday, health authorities reported 83 deaths, the highest daily number of coronavirus fatalities.

But, many believe the data does not reflect the reality of the volume of infections and fatalities of the virus in Iraq.

Iraqi Health Minister Hassan Al Tamimi said this week that a high number of health workers have become infected.

"We are battling an enemy and our medical staff have been infected with the pandemic, but they are still catering to the needs of those infected at quarantine centres," Mr Al Tamimi said.

Health authorities recorded on Friday 1,635 new infected cases and 69 deaths during the previous 24 hours. EPA

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: June 19, 2020 10:11 PM

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