S. Korea to send chartered flight to virus-hit Iraq to bring about 300 nationals home

SEOUL, South Korea is planning to send at least one government chartered flight to Iraq later this week to bring home about 300 nationals amid rapid spread of the virus in the Middle Eastern country, officials said Monday.
The government has been in talks with Iraqi authorities to arrange details, including how many flights they will need to operate as well as quarantine procedures, a foreign ministry official said.
The flight will be sent around Friday, the official said.
The number of applicants seeking to board the flight rose to nearly 300 from 200 tallied late last week. They are mostly employees of large builders and their subcontractors involved in oil refinery facility projects in Karbala, southwest of Baghdad.
“We’re still taking applications and the number of those wishing to return could rise further,” a ministry official said.
The special flight will mark the seventh case that the government has chartered a plane to airlift its nationals stranded in virus-struck regions, after sending flights to China’s Wuhan — the initial epicenter of the pandemic — Japan, Peru, Italy, Ethiopia and Iran.
On Friday, the government announced the plan for the chartered flight to Iraq, citing a sharp increase in infection cases by a couple of thousand per day. Iraq’s total caseload has surpassed 92,500, with 3,781 deaths.
Upon their return, they will be required to isolate for two weeks at government-designated facilities and undergo virus tests.
The decision also comes after South Korea reported a group infection of some 20 people who tested positive upon arriving from Iraq last week. In June, two South Korean workers in Iraq died of coronavirus symptoms or complications from the disease.
There are 828 South Korean nationals living in Iraq. Of them, 499 are based in Karbala due to their work in the construction projects.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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