Iraq on Tuesday suspended air travel to and from eight countries, including the UK, to contain the spread of a new variant of the novel coronavirus said to be more transmissible.

A series of new measures were announced following a Cabinet meeting in the capital Baghdad, according to an official statement.

The two-week travel prohibition starts on Thursday and also includes Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iran, South Africa, Australia, and Japan.

Iraqi nationals in these countries can return, subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine on arrival.

All land borders with neighboring nations and malls and restaurants will also remain closed.

Iraq has so far reported 586,503 infections and 12,725 related deaths, according to the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

The statement added that the Health Ministry has signed a contract with a manufacturer of the coronavirus vaccine, and Iraq will receive the doses in the first quarter of 2021.

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