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Iraq bans travel from seven countries over coronavirus fears

The ministry said the measures were "in order to safeguard the health of citizens across Iraq, and to control the spread of the coronavirus after the first case was recorded".

February 25, 2020 / 08:10 PM IST

Iraq extended an entry ban on travellers from China and Iran and banned travellers from five other countries over coronavirus fears, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

The entry ban is for travellers coming directly or indirectly from China, Iran, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Italy and Singapore. It exempts Iraqi nationals, diplomats and official delegations, the ministry said in a statement. It advised Iraqis not to travel to those countries.

The ministry said the measures were "in order to safeguard the health of citizens across Iraq, and to control the spread of the coronavirus after the first case was recorded".

Schools and universities were suspended for 10 days in Najaf, where the first case of the new coronavirus, an Iranian theology student, was reported on Monday, and citizens were urged to avoid travelling to and from the province.

Public gatherings in Najaf were banned until further notice and the ministry advised that they not be held throughout Iraq.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew on Monday after sharp rises in new cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea. The virus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 2,660 in China, where it originated late last year.
Reuters
first published: Feb 25, 2020 08:08 pm

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