Travelers into Erbil governorate from central, southern Iraq will be tested for coronavirus at own expense: governor

Erbil Governor Firsat Sofi speaking in a press conference on Monday July 13, 2020 (NRT Digital Media)

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SULAIMANI — Erbil Governor Firsat Sofi said on Monday (July 13) that at least some travelers will be tested for coronavirus all checkpoints leading into Erbil governorate at their own expense.

During a press conference, Sofi said that local officials are working to have the new system in place starting next week. Travel between the governorates has largely been prohibited since March as a measure to prevent the spread of the Kurdistan Region's coronavirus outbreak, with exceptions made for diplomats, humanitarian workers, and those who obtained specific permission from the KRG Ministry of Interior.

“Anyone who wants to visit Erbil should be tested [for the virus] and an amount of money will be received from them for the test, which will not be more than 50,000 Iraqi dinars [$42],” he said.

The governor's office later issued a clarifying statement saying that the order applied only to travelers coming from central and southern Iraq and not from other parts of the Kurdistan Region.

During the inital press conference, Sofi also said that the goal of having people pay for the tests themselves is to raise funds to ensure that trade and commerce continues to flow into the Kurdistan Region's capital.

According to the health ministry, there have been 9,455 cases of coronavirus in the Kurdistan Region. An official tally of 3,378 patients have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus infection, and 326 have died from it.

Within Erbil governorate, 85 new cases were recorded on Sunday.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. EBL to include a clarification from the Erbil Governor's office saying that the tests and fees only apply to those coming from central and southern Iraq. At the initial press conference, Sofi told reporters that the procedure "might be different" for those in the rest of the Kurdistan Region.