Iraq said a 70-year-old Muslim cleric died of the novel corona virus on Wednesday. This is the first death from the outbreak in a country where 31 people have been infected.
The preacher had been quarantined in the northeastern city of Sulaimaniyah before his death, a spokesman for the North Kurdish Autonomous Region's health agency said.
According to local sources, he recently met with Iraqis who had returned from neighboring Iran, which had the deadliest outbreak outside of China, the epicenter of the epidemic.
The virus in the Islamic Republic claimed 77 lives and infected more than 2,300 people.
Iraq, where 31 cases of coronavirus have been reported, is one of Iran's largest export markets and a popular destination for Iranian pilgrims visiting the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.
Many Iraqis also cross borders for business, tourism, medical care, and religious studies.
The Iraqi authorities have closed the country's borders with Iran and banned the entry of foreigners who travel from there and other badly affected countries.
Schools, universities, cinemas, cafes, and other public places in Iraq were closed until March 7 to further contain the outbreak, but many continue to function normally.
The outbreak has fueled public panic among Iraqis, who say the war-torn country's health system cannot cope with the epidemic.
Many hospitals in Iraq are poorly equipped or in poor condition after successive waves of conflict.
According to the World Health Organization, there are fewer than 10 doctors for every 10,000 people.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)