Rudaw

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Fifty-three Iraqis overseas have tested positive for coronavirus: foreign ministry

Fifty-three Iraqis abroad have been diagnosed with coronavirus, three of whom have passed away as a result of the virus, according to figures counted by Iraq’s foreign minister.

Ahmad al-Sahaf, Iraqi foreign ministry spokesperson, confirmed the death of one more Iraqi citizen in the United Kingdom, as well as eight new coronavirus cases across the world, in a twitter thread on Sunday.

“One more Iraqi died in the UK after contracting coronavirus, while eight other Iraqis have been infected with the virus,” al-Sahaf said. “Five Iraqis were infected in Austria, and three more in Canada.”

This brings the number of Iraqis diagnosed with coronavirus in Canada to six.

A further 11 cases have been confirmed among Iraqis living in Belgium, twelve in Jordan, six in Italy, five in the UK, two in Lebanon, five in the United States, and one in Iran.

So far three Iraqis have died after contracting coronavirus overseas,  including two in the UK, and one in Norway.

Sahaf did not provide any figures for Turkey, Germany, or Sweden,  which are host to substantial diasporic Iraqi and Kurdish communities.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have moved to Europe and the Americas in recent decades, many of them escaping conflict, persecution, and a lack of opportunities.

Many Iraqi and Kurdish nationals stranded overseas following the closure of airports and borders have pleaded for the federal and regional governments for help returning to Iraq.

Sahaf confirmed that the Iraqi foreign ministry is in close coordination with Iraqi consulates and embassies around the world to aid in the returning of Iraqi nationals stranded overseas.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is facilitating the return of Iraqis abroad who have traveled during the past three months, as requested by the Crisis Cell,” al-Sahaf  tweed on Sunday.

Sahaf further explained that the decision to repatriate Iraqis stranded abroad, as well as the determination of who is eligible is the responsibility of the crisis cell, not the foreign minister. The latter is coordinating this process by providing the crisis cell with names of Iraqis who wish to return to Iraq.

Iraq established the coronavirus crisis cell earlier this month in an effort to take decisive steps against the spread of the virus in Iraq.

Sahaf claims that the Iraqi foreign ministry has helped hundreds of stranded Iraqis return from countries, including Egypt, India, and Turkey.

Iraq repatriated more than 500 Iraqis from Egypt and India on state-owned Iraqi airways planes last week.

Iraq announced it would return around 150 citizens from Turkey on Friday, however, it has not confirmed the arrival of the flight.

Baghdad imposed a nation-wide coronavirus lockdown on March 17, extending it until April 11 nine days later.

The country has halted all domestic and international flights from and to Iraq, including the Kurdistan region.

According to an Iraqi Health Ministry statement, 41 new COVID-19 cases have been identified over the last 24 hours.

This includes eight cases in Baghdad province, eight in Basra, five in  Najaf, one in Sulaimani, eleven in Karbala, and eight in Erbil.

The ministry also announced the recovery of 12 coronavirus patients

No coronavirus related deaths have been reported in the last day.

The total number of coronavirus cases in Iraq is 547, with a death toll of 42. Source