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Iraqi Panic Shuts Down Border Crossing with Iran

Iraqi Panic Shuts Down Border Crossing with Iran

Friday, 21 February, 2020 - 11:30
Iraqi Airways air plane lands at Baghdad's international airport. AFP file photo
Baghdad - Fadhel al-Nashmi

There were growing fears among Iraqis on Friday after four people infected with coronavirus died in Iran, raising calls for shutting down the border with Iran.


Calls for closing the border come amid Iraq’s fragile healthcare system coupled with fears that the authorities would fail to take measures to prevent coronavirus cases in the country.


Local authorities in Basra directed border crossings and health departments in the province to ban Iraqis or Iranians from entering through Shalamcheh to Basra before undergoing health checks.


Shalamcheh border crossing announced strict measures regarding the entry of Iraqis and Iranians to Basra and other provinces through the crossing.


Yet, some protesters on Thursday shut down the border.


The Iraqi News Agency said a crisis cell held an emergency meeting chaired by the minister of health to discuss the developments in Iran after a number of coronavirus cases were announced.


In a terse statement on Thursday, the ministry said news on calls to shut down the border crossings with Iran is false. The ministry called for accuracy in releasing information.


The Iraq Civil Aviation Authority also denied suspending Iranian flights to Iraq.


Earlier, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Khaled al-Muhanna expressed willingness to shut down the border with Iran if the Ministry of Health requests such a measure.


Najaf's Governor Luay al-Yassiri advised people in Najaf to abstain from traveling outside the province and country especially after coronavirus cases were detected in Qom, Iran.


In a statement, he reassured that there are advanced equipment in Najaf’s international airport to test passengers. Yassiri noted that a crisis cell has been formed inside the province.


An operations room was formed in Najaf and a health center inaugurated at the international airport. 


There’s also full coordination with passports control to direct the arrivals from China and the Far East to the medical section for testing.


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