BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Some Shiite travelers returning to Iraq from Syria have tested positive for coronaviruses, raising fears that pilgrimages may be the source of further spread of the disease across the country, Iraqi officials said Sunday. .
So far, Iraq has recorded 547 coronavirus cases and 42 deaths, most in the past week.
Health authorities said there were at least 11 cases of coronavirus in the Shiite holy city of Kerbala among pilgrims who returned from Syria last week after visiting a Shiite shrine there, according to the governor of Kerbala.
“All those who recently returned from Syria have been quarantined to ensure they are not infected with coronaviruses,” Governor Nusayif al-Khitabi said in a video posted on Facebook.
Khitabi said the central government should have included Syria among the countries from which Iraq prohibits the entry of travelers.
Health authorities said there were four other cases of coronavirus in the Shiite city of Najaf among pilgrims who visited Damascus last week.
Syria has reported nine cases of the disease, with one death. However, doctors say there are more cases. The government denies any cover-up of the spread of the disease.
Thousands of Shiite pilgrims from Iran, a focus of the coronavirus, and other nations also continue to come to Syria to visit the Sayeda Zainab shrine in Damascus.
(Report by Ahmed Rasheed, translated into Spanish by Gabriel Burin)