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Iraq's coronavirus cases top 100,000 as Baghdad airport reopens

The Health Ministry reported 2,361 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 102,226.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iraq exceeded 100,000 on Thursday as the country’s airport in Baghdad reopened to commercial flights for the first time since March. 

The Health Ministry has reported 102,226 coronavirus infections, of which 4,122 people have died. Iraq is still struggling to bring the virus under control and for the past few weeks has logged roughly 2,000 new cases per day, including 2,361 on Thursday. 

Despite the steady number of new cases, flights bound for Lebanon and Turkey departed from Baghdad International Airport on Thursday after a monthslong grounding of commercial flights. All passengers were required to present negative coronavirus test results before boarding, Agence France Presse reported. 

Airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, which are in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, are scheduled to reopen Aug. 1. Iraq’s Civil Aviation Authority banned commercial passenger flights on March 17 as part of the country’s efforts to contain the virus. 

The government has since eased a number of restrictions. Beginning Thursday, shopping malls can resume business in Iraq, and the Al-Mundhiriyah, Safwan and Al-Shaib border crossings can reopen for trade. 

Restaurants and coffee shops must remain closed but can provide takeout meals. The overnight curfew hours have been shortened and will reportedly be phased out after the upcoming Eid al-Adha holiday.

Many countries in the region are resuming domestic and international air travel. The Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, Jordan, will resume international flights in the first or second week of August. Beginning next month, Qatar will allow its citizens and residents to travel in and out of the country at any time. 

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