Iraq has extended an entry ban for any non-Iraqis coming from Iran, the prime minister said, as authorities in Tehran announced 15 more cases of coronavirus and a death toll of eight.
Baghdad had banned crossings by non-Iraqis from Iran on Thursday for three days and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said on Saturday night that the ban would be extended. He did not specify until when.
"The prime minister ordered the … halting of receiving travellers from the Islamic Republic of Iran except for Iraqis," his office said in a statement.
Neighbouring Iraq and Iran, both home to Shia Muslim majorities, share close religious, political, and trade ties. Iran has suspended religious pilgrimage trips to Iraq. Iraqi Airways suspended flights to Iran.
Iraq's health ministry said it had detected no cases in the country.
The coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, has swept across numerous countries in the world and gave rise to increased fears of its impact since it was first identified in China's Wuhan province earlier this year.
According to China's National Health Commission yesterday, 126,000 people in the country are currently under medical care on suspicions of having the virus, there are 11,864 cases which are confirmed to be infected, and the death toll there has risen to 2,120.
Though the respiratory virus has not had much of a prominent presence in the Middle East as a whole, countries in the region have implemented a series of preventative measures in order to avoid infections taking root. The measures include the UAE ordering citizens not to touch noses in their traditional greetings, and Turkey's manufacturing of a "fast-results" kit to test for the virus.