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Iraq, Lebanon Extend Restrictions to Combat Coronavirus

Iraq, Lebanon Extend Restrictions to Combat Coronavirus

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 15:45
An empty highway is seen after Lebanon declared a medical state of emergency on Sunday as part of the preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus, in Furn El Chebbak, Lebanon, March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher
Asharq Al-Awsat

Iraq and Lebanon extended on Thursday government-imposed restrictions on movement for two more weeks, the latest measures announced to stem the spread of the COVID-19 disease.

Iraq’s Health Ministry reported a jump of coronavirus-related deaths by seven in 24 hours, according to a statement Thursday, the highest since the government began recording cases. At least 36 people among 382 confirmed infected cases have died.

Iraqis have struggled to adhere to the days-long curfew in place since March 17, prompting senior Iraqi officials and prominent religious figures to call for the public to stay at home and avoid congregating in crowds.

The cabinet said it was extending the curfew until April 11, the second extension since the curfew was first imposed.

Health officials said they expect numbers to rise as more are tested in the coming weeks.

An Iraqi army statement said it would send units to enforce the curfew and even cordon off areas where cases are mounting. The provinces of Baghdad, Basra and Karbala saw the highest number of new cases, according to the ministry.

The restrictions include a travel ban within Iraq and to and from its airports.

The Lebanese cabinet extended a lockdown expiring Saturday until April 12.

Lebanon has recorded six deaths of the virus while 35 new infected cases were recorded Thursday, raising the total to 386 cases.

Tightening its measures, the government also extended the shutdown to all public institutions, including municipalities, and ordered exempt stores, such as bakeries, pharmacies and supermarkets, to close between 7 pm and 5 am every day.

Overnight compliance with the lockdown will be enforced more strictly, Information Minister Manal Abdel Samad said after the cabinet meeting.

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