British Covid-19 variant discovered in Iraq – health minister

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Iraq

dpa/GNA – The British Covid-19 variant has been discovered in Iraq, Health Minister Hassan al-Tamimi said on Monday, just days ahead of the imposition of a new curfew the country.

“Laboratory tests … have shown genetic mutations and the discovery of the new variant in Iraq,” al-Tamimi told a news conference.

“The discovery of this new fast-spreading variant requires all citizens to be cautious and adhere to the Health Ministry’s instructions,” al-Tamimi said.

Epidemiological teams will be deployed in the different cities to make sure people are abiding by the ministry’s instructions, and people will be fined and face legal measures if they violate them, he added.

A series of measures are to go into effect on Thursday, including a night-time curfew between 8 pm (1700 GMT) and 5 am. The government will also ban gatherings including funerals and congregational prayers. Mosques will only be open for the call to prayer.

The minister urged clerics and tribal leaders to abide by these measures.

Daily infections have been increasing in Iraq recently, as the country recorded more than 2,000 cases on Sunday.

The total number of recorded coronavirus cases in Iraq stands at more than 643,000 and the death tool has reached 13,000.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq between March 5 and 8, during which he has planned meetings with political and religious leaders. It will be the first visit to the Middle Eastern country by the head of the Catholic Church.

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