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Virus strikes another blow at religious tourism in Iraq

Feb 27, 2020 - 6:00 PM

In 'normal' times, income from pilgrims creates jobs for Iraqis and brings in billions of dollars per year. But with the novel coronavirus, visitor numbers are plunging.

Pilgrims wearing masks walk through the courtyard of the shrine of Imam Ali on February 25, 2020 in the holy Iraqi central city of Najaf, where the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 has been documented in Iraq. - Iraq on February 24 confirmed its first novel coronavirus case in an elderly Iranian national in Najaf, according to health officials. A country with a dilapidated healthcare system, Iraq often hosts pilgrims and religious students from Iran, where at least a dozen people have died of the novel coronavirus since an outbreak there was first reported last week. Iraq had blocked travel to and from the Islamic republic days before announcing a seminary student in Najaf was the country's first confirmed case. (Photo by Haidar HAMDANI / AFP)