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Iraqi Airways halts all flights from Kurdistan to Iran over coronavirus

Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Iraqi Airways said on Friday that all flights between Kurdistan Region’s Sulaimani city and Tehran have been suspended due to the developing coronavirus outbreak in Iran, according to Kurd Daily.

“Due to the outbreak of the virus in Iran, all the flights between Sulaimani and Tehran have been suspended and, at Erbil Airport, the last flight from Erbil to Tehran will be today [Friday]. After that, all flights will be suspended until further notice,” Iraqi Airways said.

The halt in flights between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region comes after both the federal Ministry of Interior and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Interior decided to close all border crossings and all flights with Iran.

On Thursday Iraqi Airways has suspended flight service to neighbouring Iran as a protective measure against the coronavirus outbreak, the Iraqi state news agency reported.

Iran confirmed 13 more new coronavirus cases and two deaths among the group of new cases, Health Ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur said in a tweet on Friday.

The new cases comprised seven people diagnosed in Qom, four in Tehran and two in Gilan, Jahanpur said in the tweet.

The total of cases in Iran now stands at 18, with four of those people having died.

Iraqis currently in Iran must undergo a 14-day monitoring period before they are allowed to return home. Iraqis are also not permitted to visit Iran unless they are part of a diplomatic delegation.

The outbreak originated in China and has killed more than 2,100 people there. New research suggesting the virus is more contagious than previously thought has added to the international alarm over the outbreak.

Millions of Iranians come to Iraq every year to visit the Shiite shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala. Such pilgrimages could bring the virus to Iraq if precautions are not taken.

Ministers and officials from Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) met with the Region’s governors, Asayish (security) officials, and customs directors in Erbil on Saturday to discuss countermeasures to prevent a local coronavirus outbreak.