Middle East

Baghdad airport reopens as coronavirus cases approach 100,000

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — Baghdad International Airport reopened for scheduled commercial flights on Thursday after months of closure during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit Iraq especially hard in recent weeks.

Iraq suspended all flights to and from Baghdad in March, with only irregular or chartered flights operating and advance permission required for travel.

The measures, which accompanied the closure of land borders and a general curfew that has been mostly in force since March, were taken to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Iraq has recorded nearly 100,000 cases of infection and more than 4,000 deaths from COVID-19. Health ministry figures now regularly show more than 2,000 new cases each day.

Some passengers traveling from Baghdad airport are required to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test several days before their flights, depending on destination, a spokesman for the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said.

Incoming passengers are all required to take a test 48 hours before boarding Baghdad-bound flights, he said.

Passengers were being scanned for temperatures as they arrived at the airport, Reuters reporters said, and some social distancing was enforced at stages such as passport control but not while people boarded flights.


Reporting by Baghdad newsroom, John Davison; Editing by Giles Elgood

Image: A worker wearing a protective mask talks on the phone after the reopening of Baghdad International Airport, where flights halted due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Baghdad, Iraq July 23, 2020. (REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani)

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